In the past, factory farming was regarded as a technological triumph that would sustain food sufficiency in the growing world population. Today, a growing concern from various experts, including agriculturalists, as well as scientists and policymakers, perceives factory farming as a dead end, a mistaken agricultural approach, and destructive invention to the living systems (Pluhar 455). Factory farming poses serious health threats that cannot be overlooked. Several scientific researchers have shown that the modern practice of factory farming is an increasingly acute danger to human health, the environment, and animal welfare. Until recently, animal welfare associations have avoided the controversial factory farming debates, focusing instead on other conventional aspects such as pet overpopulation and frequent instances of animal cruelty. However, a clash between the moral agents including the animal rights activists and the influential agribusiness businesses appears unavoidable.
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Intensive animal confinement and mechanized production procedures generate an enormous volume of animal products used in human consumption (Williams 373). An urgent attention on effects of factory farming to human health, environment and animals is paramount to curb possible disastrous effects in future. Failure to contain and control these methods can lead to a global crisis. Despite the many merits associated with this method, the extent of danger it poses to humanity overweighs all outstanding advantages associated with it. The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production investigation research 2008 on the impact of factory farming confirmed the harmful effect posed by products produced through this method and recommended a 10 year for the closure of the most intensive production techniques used in factory farming, including battery cages, force feeding birds to reap their fatty livers for foie gras and gestation crates (The Characteristics of Industrial Agriculture 1). The researchers concluded that the current factory farming is quite purely unacceptable due to its harmful effects on humans, environment, and animals. These findings came at a time when not only the United States but also the global demand for animal products, particularly meat, has risen to their highest point yet. Based on findings explored from a variety of ethical viewpoints, especially utilitarian and rights based perspectives, there is a need to consider other alternatives.
This short writing was meant to highlight that the world we live in today is highly dependent on factory farming and the deep, everlasting impacts it has on our society and lifestyles. Although highlighting the advantages that provide sustainability and economic stability is important, the aim of this paper is to bring forth the wide array of disadvantages and threats to the society and environment that these methods bring. But with all that being said, the industrial livestock production has become a very important part of how the world functions and how the food supply is dependent on it and is distributed across the globe.
Harm to Animals
Disease and Life Expectancy
Most of the issues that are connected with the factory farming effect on animals are caused by such factor as overcrowding. Large numbers of birds and animals are kept on small territories, which facilitates the spreading of infections. The fish population is also subject to this problem, as the long-term overcrowding may lead to the higher competition for food and result in stress and decline of the immune defense, which can cause the growth of disease rates (Gregory & Grandin, 2007, p. 136). Moreover, the inability of animals to live a natural life results in their shorter life span, which is also disadvantaging for humans as they do not receive enough proteins that could potentially be developed through more sustainable methods (Fick, 2008, p. 163). Thus, the conditions of flock and cattle raising are not only harmful to animals but they also strongly decrease the population, resulting in the lack of food for people.
The ways of keeping birds and animals used in factory farming are often cruel and causing pain. For instance, there is a practice of beak trimming of chicken that is done to prevent the cases of cannibalism among birds kept in small rooms (Poultry Hub, 2017, para. 1). Besides, most chickens are kept in cages for the most of their lives, which causes various health issues with legs and feathers since they are not adjusted to stand or rub against the wire. These birds need worms and other organic food found in the earth for their optimal growth and functioning (Healthy Eating Politics, 2017, para. 2). However, in the case of factory farming, it is almost impossible to keep an eye on the great numbers of chicken roaming the open ground. Moreover, not all countries have yet adopted the regulations that would allow slaughtering farm animals without them feeling stressed during the process.
It is not surprising that more and more people become concerned with the conditions in which farm animals are raised. Although it is true that the large portion of the world’s population is primarily concerned about the cost of products, most people in the developed countries are willing to pay more for food that has been produced in a sustainable way. This is one of the results of the grand survey conducted for ASPCA the last year (ASPCA, 2016, para. 5). Other key findings include the misconceptions about the popular labels regarding the industry and the small literacy in the field of monitoring the farm animal welfare. These results show that although people are concerned with the state of farm animals, they do not make much effort to study the subject in depth. Marketing is a powerful tool to make people believe that the food they consume is eco-friendly, yet a little portion of customers studies whether these claims are true. It is possible that the primary concern of people who choose sustainable food producers is to look better in public through supporting the modern ethical trends. However, even this artificial interest has already created a demand for the new agricultural techniques that would prevent the animal suffering. It may possibly occur in the future that the developed countries will pass the laws prohibiting the factory farming. In any case, the survey made for ASPCA clearly shows that people lack education in matters concerning animal cruelty in the field of the food production.
Harm to Humans
Farmers’ Health State
It is not only animals who suffer health issues from the factory farming methods. People who work on farms also go through the illness cases directly caused by the use of chemicals during their work. For instance, the study of the rice field workers in the Philippines has shown that they experience problems with sight, blood pressure, and digestion (Naylor, 1996, p. 64). The research connects these problems with the extensive use of pesticides for tackling weeds. Another evidence shows that the long-term exposure to the sun can cause problems with skin such as the early aging and melanoma cases (Ulimwengu, 2009, p. 1). Besides, people who work directly with animals are regularly exposed to viruses and diseases that can be transmitted to humans. While this issue can be present in natural farming, the intensive methods pose higher risks due to the larger numbers of cattle.
The spreading of diseases among other people is also influenced by the factory farming. The overcrowded facilities create perfect conditions for the development of viruses and pathogenic bacteria (Geer, 2014, para. 2). Because of a large number of animals, viruses can mutate to get new forms, which is happening every year. Studies suggest that the factory farming could lead humanity to the situation of the so-called “antibiotic apocalypse” when new viruses would be resistant to all forms of medicine (Woolfe, 2016, para. 1). This estimation seems particularly accurate, as scientists are currently observing the growing number of flu forms which become harder to treat each year. All the vaccines that are currently used in the healthcare system may become ineffective due to the rapid development of the new disease types, and humanity may need to rethink the whole treatment ways to tackle this problem along with changing the ways in the agricultural field.
Antibiotics and Hormones
Apart from the threat of the disease spreading, factory farming is a source of the population’s health state worsening, as the majority of meat and dairy products are full of antibiotics and hormones used on animals to prevent them from falling ill or to help them gain mass. When antibiotics are consumed by people, they can cause the extinction of the natural microflora in the digestion system, resulting in the malfunctioning of the whole body. Hormones are even more dangerous, as they change the vital processes in a body that can lead to such problems as diabetes and obesity. The recent survey made by the National Research Center shows that people become more concerned about reducing antibiotics in food production (National Research Center, 2015, p. 3). More than half of the respondents answered that they find this matter to be very important. However, it is impossible to reject the usage of medicine in factory farming since the large numbers of animals cannot be kept healthy if they live at the same place. It becomes evident that the current methods in agriculture are not satisfying as perceived by the majority of the American population. The problem is further deepened by the food producers who do not state on their products that animals were treated with antibiotics and hormones. It might be the task of the government that needs to address this issue and make the farming safer by obliging producers to regulate the amount of medication they use since ensuring the interest of citizens is the country’s top priority.
Harm to Ecology
The fact of destroying the natural landscape by factory farming is probably the most pressuring issue caused by this industry. Such problem as deforestation is the biggest one, as it can be traced in the emerging states like Ghana, where there is an urgent need to create a more effective department of agriculture, as the country is suffering from the inappropriate land usage (Asante, 2005, p. 185). Asia is also suffering from the current practices. For instance, vast territories of the mangrove forests are suitable for shrimp farming, which is causing a gradual destruction of these areas (Barbier & Sathirathai, 2004, p. 56). It is easy to predict that if the current methods of farming continue to prevail, the state of the Earth will change in the next several decades. Forests provide oxygen and protect the planet from overheating. Failure to save these precious territories will result in the climate change.
Loss of Species
Deforestation and changing of other areas lead directly to the shortage of fauna species. As animals lose their natural habitats, they have to adapt to the new conditions, which is impossible to achieve in the short run. The World Wide Fund for Nature claims that 50 percent of the world’s lands have been turned into farming territories, which is threatening animals living there (WWF, 2016). The fauna world is not the only one suffering, as plants are also endangered in the changing world. The growth of the population in the United Kingdom has caused the increase in the territories used for the farming purposes, which resulted in the extinction of hundreds of domestic species (Marshall, 2016). While people strive to feed themselves properly, they forget the importance of their surrounding and it may soon happen that humanity will find itself to be one of the few species left on Earth.
Pollution and Starving
The issue of pollution is widely discussed in public. It is no longer surprising that farming causes water and soil contamination that heavily impacts the environment. However, it is much less discussed that pollution can harm the food production itself. The research made recently is based on the interview conducted with several farmers in Thailand who are growing rice (Khai & Yabe, 2013). One of the most peculiar answers given by the respondents is that water pollution is causing the production of rice to grow in cost. Contaminated water and soil prevent crops from the proper development, as many of them die. This information may serve as a reason for rethinking the modern ways of farming. Many regions of the world, and especially Asia, are dependent on rice, and the increasing cost of this product may lead to the starvation of millions of people. This fact undermines the initial idea of factory farming which lies in providing affordable food to as many people as possible through cheaper technologies and less workforce required to produce the product. It is possible that the problem of overpopulation is the primary cause to the fact that humanity cannot afford to switch to the more natural methods in agriculture. However, if things will be kept the way they are now, humanity may face famine along with the other problems already described in this paper. It is evident that the more lands are polluted by farming, the less territories can be used for food production in the future.
Summarizing all the factors stated above, it becomes clear that factory farming presents more disadvantages than offers benefits to people. Although this method of agriculture provides food for the large numbers of consumers, it cannot satisfy this need in the long run. Factory farming affects the whole planet and can no longer be supported if humans want to ensure they live in the healthy environment It becomes evident that, while this method of farming is extremely developed in the world and is currently the only option to produce large quantities of food, countries’ administration offices must thing of the new ways to eliminate the existing problems.
This paper has discussed in detail the issues caused by factory farming. Firstly, the cruel practices regarding animals can no longer be sustained in the modern world where people have come to an understanding of the life importance of every creature. Secondly, the impact of factory farming on the human health is also disturbing, as many people are currently suffering from diseases and viruses acquired through the consumption of meat and dairy products. Finally, the effect that the current methods in agriculture industry have on the environment are devastating as they destruct the land and sea habitats and cause many species of flora and fauna to go extinct.
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It becomes evident that people are becoming more concerned with the situation. While the mass interest in the topic is essential, it should become the task of the governments to form laws and regulations that would change the current situation. Luckily, many administration representatives, especially in the developed states, have already paid their attention to the problem. It may be expected in the nearest future that factory farming would become much less harmful for people and environment since there are no real alternatives that could substitute this technique at the moment.
Nowadays, more and more businesses start campaigns to support the environment. Even food producers try to ensure potential customers their products are eco-friendly and good for health. The growing number of food suppliers who use natural farming methods supports the demand for the green technologies in agriculture. All of these trends can serve as a signal to the forthcoming end of such practice as the factory farming as it is known today.
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