Old MacDonald Had a Factory

Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2006 at 10:12 am by JTE

Everywhere it is introduced, factory farming creates ecological and public health disasters, from new animal and human diseases to air and water pollution to the loss of livestock genetic resources. Factory farms crowd hundreds of thousands of animals together with little natural light or fresh air, creating a ripe environment for breeding disease. Waste from the animals is collected in large lagoons where it can seep into nearby waterways, contaminate groundwater, and spread a sickening stench for miles. Workers in meat processing plants work long hours in miserable conditions and have among the highest accident rates in the United States. All of this is done with an eye towards minimizing costs and maximizing profits with little regard for human, environmental, or animal welfare.

Rethinking the global meat industry is not just about keeping factory farms safe from disease outbreaks and mitigating their environmental effects. The real challenge, and the real reward, will come from taking a different approach to the way we raise food. Reversing the factory farm tide will require thinking about farming systems as more than a source of economic wealth. We must recognize that preserving prosperous family farms and their landscapes and raising healthy and humanely treated animals are their own form of affluence.

So writes Danielle Nierenberg in the State of the World 2006.

Is this really the future we want?

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