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Factory Farming

Essay by   •  March 5, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  957 Words (4 Pages)  •  708 Views

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In our planet, there have been many pressing issues regarding the environment. Two of the most talked-about have been climate change and pollution. Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.4°F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 2 to 11.5°F over the next hundred years (United States Environmental Protection Agency). Pollution, whether it’s air, water, or land pollution, is heavily increasing due to human activity. The factory farm industry has been accused of producing unhealthy food with unethical procedures, but what some might not know is that it is also contributing to the previously mentioned environmental issues and some more. Factory farms are rapidly increasing and causing much controversy on what people is eating nowadays.

First of all, the idea of what a factory farm is and how it operates must be clear to you. A factory farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food (ASPCA), which can be meat, eggs or dairy. Factory farms raise tenths of thousands of animals, such as cows, chickens, and pigs, in unsanitary and unhealthy ways. They’re imprisoned in small spaces, for example, warehouses or cages, and treated with cruelty. These animals suffer severely from physical abuse and mental damages. All of this is done by companies to lower costs and maximize profits in the food-production industry. Can you justify such a treatment with saving a few dollars on what you eat?

Foer, in its book Eating Animals, claims that “Americans eat the equivalent of 21,000 animals in a lifetime.” For people to eat that much, a huge production of meat is needed. According to a report by the USDA in 2011, 34.1 million head of cattle, 852 200 calves, 110.9 million hogs, and 2.16 million sheep were slaughtered for human consumption in the United States alone (Pedersen). The USDA also stated that there are nearly 10 billion animals born, raised, and slaughter in factory farms for food each year in the US, and if you want to talk about world-wide numbers, there are around 65 billion factory farm animals (The Humane Society of the United States). US farm animals are fed 70 percent of US-produced grains, while the 65 million factory farm animals are fed half of the world’s grains. That’s a lot of food for a lot of animals.

Now that you have an idea of how many farm animals there are in the US alone and in the world, and how much they eat, imagine how many waste they produce. This waste, also known as manure, contributes to both climate change and pollution.

According to the UN, the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, around 40 percent more than the entire transport sector-cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships-combined (Foer 58). Cattles’ and hogs’ digestive process releases methane. Factory farms are responsible for 37% of the methane emission, and is actually worse than carbon dioxide emission, because it traps heat 21 times more effective than CO2 (Pedersen). This excessive greenhouse gas emission contributes to climate change. If the cow isn’t emitting methane due to its high-protein diet of soy and corn for rapid growth, then it’s expelling the protein as urinary nitrogen. This nitrogen can vaporize into ammonia gas, or acid rain. Acid rain kills insects and aquatic life, and changes pH levels in the soil which kills important microbes (Pedersen).

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