Animal Agriculture and the Environment

Climate change is worsening and the animal farming industry doesn’t want us to know that they are responsible.

 

  • You Probably Won’t Know This About the Animal Industry

Industries involved in animal farming or factory farming aim to produce as much of their products as possible, hence animals are kept in poor conditions and given small living spaces to reduce input costs.

 

 4 Ethical Issues of Animal Agriculture

1. Animal Abuse

One issue of Animal agriculture that concerns people are the ethics and treatment of animals in the industry. Animals are usually kept in tight spaces and experience a lot of pain.

In the dairy industry, cows are forcibly impregnated so they can produce milk. Once they give birth, their babies are taken away from them. If the calf is a female it will also be forced to produce milk for the dairy industry. Male cows are not profitable so they are sent to veal farms to be turned into food. Cows have a life span of 20 years but in the dairy industry they only live up to 4 years.

In the egg industry, chickens which normally produce only 12 eggs a year, are injected with hormones so they can lay 300 eggs a year. They experience several health problems like losing feathers because they cannot consume back the nutrients in the eggs they’ve lain as they are taken away to be sold in markets

2. Deforestation

Animal agriculture causes deforestation as space is needed for animal farming. According to the Wageningen University and Research Centre: “Agriculture is estimated to be the direct driver for around 80% of deforestation worldwide.”

3. Wastage of Natural Resources

Resources are exhausted in the process of animal livestock production. In John Robbins book The Food Revolution it states that “Producing a single hamburger uses enough fuel to drive 20 miles and causes the lose five times its weight in topsoil.” According to Marcia Kreith in her book Water Inputs in California Food Production, “it takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat and only 25 gallons to produce one pound of wheat.”

Considering we live in a world with poverty and world hunger it is important we try to live sustainably and use our resources wisely.

4. Overfishing

Ocean dead zones and species endangerment are caused by overfishing. Dead zones are areas in the world oceans that are hypoxic (low in oxygen). This leads to species of fish to becoming endangered and causes an imbalance in ecosystems.

 

 

  • Your Health might possibly be at Risk

Last year MacDonald’s issued a statement regarding the reduction of antibiotic use in their chickens. The use of antibiotics in animals leads to antimicrobial resistance in humans. This is a danger to human health as the bacteria changes, which then reduces the effectiveness of medicine. This makes humans more susceptible to disease.

  • Why aren’t we made aware of this information?  

Animal agriculture is a profitable industry and receives subsidies from the government. Large Environmental organisations are funded by companies involved in the industry or want to avoid problems because of the power of these companies. Information is usually less known about the effects of animal agriculture on the environment because it would cause bad publicity and would hurt the profits of these industries.

  • Make a Difference

Ways in which we as individuals can reduce our carbon footprint and stop the devastating consequences of animal agriculture is by reducing our consumption of animal products or fully converting to a plant-based diet.

 As consumers, we have the choice to buy products that are eco-friendly. We can pressurise industries to reduce their carbon footprint so they can produce products that do not harm the environment. Laws and legislations can be passed to try to reduce the environmental effects. The Denmark Ethics Council have voted to tax red meat to combat climate change.

 It is important that we educate ourselves about these issues so we can take small steps towards a healthy, greener future.

 

Article by Kim Freeman

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