Posts Tagged ‘Factory Farm’


Increase in Farm Animals Poses Many Risks

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Check out this article in Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, which features our new research on rising farm animal populations and the increase in factory farms, or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Photo credit: Haaretz

Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), or factory farms, are the most rapidly growing system of farm animal production. Although CAFOs originated in Europe and North America, they are becoming increasingly prevalent in developing regions like East and Southeast Asia, where environmental, animal-welfare, public health, and labor standards are often not as well-established as in industrialized regions. To prevent serious human and environmental costs, policymakers will need to strengthen production regulations around the world.

Click here to read the full article.

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


Global Meat Production and Consumption Continue to Rise

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Global meat production and consumption have increased rapidly in recent decades, with harmful effects on the environment and public health as well as on the economy, according to research done by Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project for Vital Signs Online. Worldwide meat production has tripled over the last four decades and increased 20 percent in just the last 10 years. Meanwhile, industrial countries are consuming growing amounts of meat, nearly double the quantity in developing countries.

According to a new Worldwatch report, global meat consumption and production continue to rise. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Large-scale meat production also has serious implications for the world’s climate. Animal waste releases methane and nitrous oxide, greenhouse gases that are 25 and 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, respectively.

Dirty, crowded conditions on factory farms can propagate sickness and disease among the animals, including swine influenza (H1N1), avian influenza (H5N1), foot-and-mouth disease, and mad-cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). These diseases not only translate into enormous economic losses each year—the United Kingdom alone spent 18 to 25 billion dollars in a three-year period to combat foot-and-mouth disease—but they also lead to human infections.

Mass quantities of antibiotics are used on livestock to reduce the impact of disease, contributing to antibiotic resistance in animals and humans alike. Worldwide, 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in 2009 were used on livestock and poultry, compared to only 20 percent used for human illnesses. Antibiotics that are present in animal waste leach into the environment and contaminate water and food crops, posing a serious threat to public health.



Industrial poultry production and reemerging avian flu

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By Emily Gilbert

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there are alarming signs that a new mutant strain of the avian flu, or H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, is spreading in Asia and beyond. H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is a potentially devastating virus, associated with a high mortality rate and high economic losses.   HPAI viruses can jump species barriers and infect humans, becoming a potential source of a future pandemic.

A chicken being vaccinated against the H5N1 virus (Photo credit: CRDF)

Although wild birds and small-scale poultry production have been blamed for the spread of avian flu, recent research conducted by Tour du Valat, a Mediterranean wetland conservation research center, has found that when the avian flu virus infects poultry, not wild bird species, it mutates into the highly pathogenic strains of the flu .  These findings are supported by separate research on outbreaks in Nigeria and Thailand, which found that human agricultural activity and industrial poultry production, or factory farming, are major sources of the global spread of the avian flu.

After a 2002 bird flu outbreak in Chile, a study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases  identified poultry as the primary species in which the more highly pathogenic strains evolved.  A separate study produced in part by the Joint Influenza Research Centre at Hong Kong University found that, “transmission within poultry is the major mechanism for sustaining H5N1 virus endemicity in this region.”  Interestingly, in the Southeast Asian countries where most of the bird flu outbreaks are concentrated, including Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, poultry production grew eightfold over the last three decades, from around 300,000 metric tonnes of meat produced in 1971 to 2,440,000 metric tonnes in 2001. In China where the H5N1 virus has also spread, poultry production tripled during the 1990s, with 15 billion ducks, geese and chickens raised in 2004.



The Global Impacts of China’s Pig Industry

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A recent report by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) discusses China’s shift away from smaller-scale production to industrial pig operations.

Farmers in Sichuan clean corn that they will feed to their pigs. (Photo credit: IATP)

China is the biggest pork producer in the world—producing 50 million metric tons in 2010.

According to Jim Harkness, the President of IATP, “China’s pig industry has become more and more dependent on multinational agribusiness investment and imports for feed. This development has changed the dynamic of agriculture in China and pushed smaller-scale pig producers out of business. It has also played a role in increasing demand for agricultural land internationally.”

The report’s author, Mindi Schneider, recommends reassessing the impacts of adopting industrial pork production and pig feeding for the population and the environment.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


Preventing Cruelty on the Farm

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Check out this New York Time‘s on-line discussion about preventing cruelty to farm animals.

Rancher and lawyer, Nicolette Hahn-Niman, suggests five ways government can prevent abuse at factory farms. Walter Olsen from the CATO Institute and Temple Grandin,a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, also join the conversation.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


Mexican Activists Pushing for Factory Farm Regulations

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Last night I spent two hours talking to a group of mostly female Mexican environmentalists and animal advocates. They’re all members of Associaciones Protectoras de Animales de Mexico (APASDEM). In one of the member’s apartments-located conveniently above an organic market-we talked about the state of farming and livestock for food production in Mexico.

The picture is not a pretty one. It’s not only the factory farms located here that are causing problems, but also slaughterhouses. Unfortunately, the spread of disease and pollution from animal agriculture doesn’t end with the lives of the animals at slaughterhouses. The APASDEM members told me that there are only 3 or 4 slaughterhouses in the whole country that are federally inspected. That means that more than 50 percent of the meat eaten here is not inspected. The rest is processed in underground slaughterhouses that don’t have to follow humane slaughtering practices or manage the waste, including blood and manure, that comes from these facilities. (more…)