Do Factory Farms Do More Harm Than Good?

Topics: Factory Farming

Factory Farms: More Dangerous Than Useful Jonathan Anomaly put it best saying, “The situation on factory farms is analogous to that of an overcrowded prison.” (246). This is a good insight into what a factory farm looks like, crowded with animals confined to cages that barely fit them. This may be efficient, but in the long run, it is not good. Factory farms are not good for human health or the environment Factory farms, or feedlots, are the new method of producing animal products all over the world Nierenberg said, “These Intensive and environmentally destructive production methods are spreading all over the globe, to Mexico, India, the former Soviet Union, and most rapidly throughout Asia”(12).

It shows how diverse of a problem this is and how these methods are spreading to other countries Factory farms have only really been around in the last fifty years changing the way animal farms work forever. How factory farms came about is natural selection in a way, as farmers competed for the top spot on the producer list they became more inventive with how they produced their products.

However, competition is not the only cause of factory farms, as more people move to the city you see much fewer family-owned farms that are used to just support a family. Animal farms used to be something of human and nature bonding but now there is no more bonding and all people want is to produce.

This changed the way we see farming. The way Jonathan Anomaly put it is, “Factory farming involves raising livestock in densely populated environments often called ‘concentrated animal feeding operations”(246).

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He put it very well as most of these operations involve keeping animals kept in areas much too small for them, allowing more animals to fit within the space. This article shows how these farms are ruining the family farm, “This USDA overview sees bGH as just one of the factors leading inevitably to fewer, larger dairy farms.” (DuPuis and Geisler 409). This article has a good point on what factory farms are doing. They are taking over smaller farms to let the bigger farms run an animal farm monopoly Along with the poor things that come with factory farms, there are benefits to using factory farms as well. Factory farms are needed because of a few reasons, such as Urbanization. Urbanization has played a big role in why we need factory farms because as people move out of their family farms and into big cities, they lose their ability to produce for themselves, needing to rely on someone to produce for them. Another main reason is a growing population Michael Fox had a relevant statement on the topic with the words “A common rationalization is that factory farming is justified to ‘feed a hungry world’”(Fox 15).

With a growing population comes a growing need for food, and not just vegetables. Meat is in a very different place than it once was according to Nierenberg “Meat once occupied a very different dietary place in most of the world. Beef, pork, and chicken were considered luxuries and were eaten on special occasions or to enhance the flavor of other foods. But as agriculture became more mechanized, so did animal production” (12). With the way meat is in our society now there is a higher demand thus creating the need for factory farms. A statement by Nirenberg helps place a better vision of how big these factories are, “Feedlots are responsible for 43% of the world’s beef, and more than half of the world’s pork and poultry are raised in factory farms” (13). Which forty-three percent may not seem like much but that is talking about all beef in the world. That is placing all of that beef into the hands of these farmers and the disease-filled factory farms. The reasons why we need them are outweighed by the reasons they are bad. Factory farms cause a lot of issues ranging from human illness to environmental issues. A major part of factory farm human health issues is that it helps make diseases stronger through antibiotic resistance. This is what happens when diseases see too much of one antibiotic. It allows the disease to evolve and learn how to handle that antibiotic, making the disease stronger. As one article said “The use of growth-promoting antibiotics in animal agriculture is thought to be one of the factors driving the increase in antibiotic resistance in humans.

In addition, the most prevalent foodborne pathogens are overwhelmingly associated with animal products, most of which come from factory farms and high-speed processing facilities” (Horrigan, Lawrence, and Walker 445). This snippet helps provide insight into why factory farms are such a problem when it comes to the spread of disease. Foodborne illness is a leading cause of disease in the United States more so since the start of factory farming one article shows just how dangerous foodborne illnesses are, “Antibiotic resistance is a clear and present danger, already killing thousands of people in the United States a year.”(Sayer 77). This number will only rise as these farms keep growing, causing more issues. Inside these farms not only do diseases change allowing them to be stronger, but they also can infect new species. This happens in factory farms more than it ever would in a natural place due to the enclosed conditions the animals are placed in. Dorothy Crawford provides a better explanation by saying “Gene swapping between human and bird strains often occurs in pigs or horses, causing a major genetic change in the virus causing an antigenic shift (qt. In Anomaly 247).

This is a big reason why factory farms are harmful to human health, it exposes us to new diseases that would have never gotten to us without a factory farm catalyst. Factory farmworkers are at a direct health risk when working. ThereTheir multiple sources tamale’s stating multiple sources stating the deaths of farmers after inhaling concentrated methane gas saying “Farmers and farmworkers have died from asphyxiation after entering underground pits used for storing animal manure”. (Horrigan, Lawrence, and Walker 451)Along with the workers, people downwind could also be in danger as this article states “ Gases from animal manure at factory farms create potential human health risks for workers and residents living downwind” (Horrigan, Lawrence, and Walker 451). This is not a problem on a large scale but, it is still a problem for those who live close to these farms. The diseases that are in animal products are something that is being ignored by consumers daily. It is assumed that if it is on the shelf that it is good to eat or if cooked to a certain temperature that it will be okay to eat. Sometimes this is the case, but foodborne illnesses are hard to trace before placing food on the shelf. There is a lot of science behind factory farms. Whether it is how the disease is made or how the farms work. In these farms, many diseases would have died had they been in a larger space, but since the conditions are enclosed and dark, the bacteria can live for much longer without a host. One article acknowledges this stating, “Factory farms are breeding ground for virulent diseases”(Sayer 76). This is a big reason why these operations are not safe. The diseases will spread and evolve much faster being in these closed conditions surrounded by new hosts. Researcher Dorothy Crawford says, “Experts agree that most (and perhaps all) strain of the influenza virus that infects human beings originated from contact with other animals, especially domesticated birds and pigs in Asia” (qtd. In Anomaly 246). This problem has only increased since the beginning of factory farms. The environmental issues that deal with factory farming seem to be just little things but one little thing can change an entire ecosystem. This article, gives one issue of this type of farming, “In recent decades, however, industrial agriculture has increasingly separated animals from the land.” (Horrigan, Lawrence, and Walker 448).

Separating animals from the land can cause issues such as overgrowth of pastures and unfertilized lands. As the same article explains a different issue, “manure runoff can damage local water quality by overloading it with nutrients, particularly phosphates.” (Horrigan, Lawrence, and Walker 451). With all the animals in one place, there is a build-up of excess waste that is kept in one area allowing it to create a bigger issue. This excess manure in the water is what allows algae to grow inside the bodies of water killing fish populations that live there. There is a lot that goes wrong when you take certain things out of an ecosystem. This article allots to a sustainability issue with factory farms, “Today’s conventional or industrial agriculture is considered unsustainable” (Horrigan, Lawrence, and Walker 452). The nature of this farming allows for many mistakes and for lots of things to go wrong. The reason this is unsustainable is because of how many things could go wrong with an operation of such a high caliber.

This article states cases, “One of the top 2 or 3 causes of the most serious environmental problems: air and water pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity,  Eating factory-farmed animals – which is to say virtually every piece of meat sold in supermarkets and prepared in restaurants – is almost certainly the single worst thing a human can do to the environment”(Lakoff 70) This article helps provide an overall view of what happens when animals are taken out of the environment and placed into a building. There are some arguments on why factory farms are good. Factory farms increase the productivity of animal products and it is more efficient than the typical farm. As Michael Fox put it “A major advantage of intensive factory farming is the greater productivity per unit of building space” (6). This increased productivity is why the idea of factory farms is so appealing. It allows these products to be mass-produced and feed the growing population. The reason this argument is not strong is because the same is true from the other side as one article states “However, one major flaw of factory farming is that when things go wrong, they go wrong in a big way” (Fox 6). This statement helps provide a clue to why mass production is not always as good as it seems, it is little problems that expand into bigger issues inside these operations. Not only do these firms increase production but they also ease the workload on the employees as one farmer states, “ his workload was halved and he could manage four times as many birds” (Fox 9). This reason is also why factory farming is so appealing o an idea, it is much easier to handle than a normal farm. It takes fewer farmers to manage more areas of animals. The reason that this is not well thought out is, that if there are fewer people at the farm when something goes wrong, there is nobody there to take care of it.

The biggest reason that factory farms are needed is that it is a necessity for the economy, the demand for meat is high so the supply needs to be just as high so the price of meat does not skyrocket through the roof. The flaw in this is if the supply gets destroyed due to a disease the price will skyrocket because the demand will stay the same, but the supply will not be there to support it. Even though factory farming has brought up a lot of problems, whether it’s human illnesses or environmental issues it is still continued to be practiced. Not only raising health issues but moral issues, as one vegan states her issue with these operations inby saying, “The interesting part, however, was that her objections to eating meat center meat-centered not on how animals are killed, but on how they lived” (Murphy 1).

One farm report states Factory Farms chain veal calves around the neck to prevent them from turning around in their narrow stalls. Movement is discouraged so the tamales muscles will be underdeveloped and their flesh will be tender. They are kept in isolation and near or total darkness during their 4-month lives and are fed and iron-deficient diet to induce anemia so that their flesh develops the pale color prized in the marketplace (Horrigan, Lawrence, and Walker 449) This raised moral issues because animals are not able to follow their instinct and not seeing light their entire lives, as they are kept in large sheds. Diseases are the main problem in factory farms, as the DOIillness is becoming more of an issue throughout the United States. These farms are spreading more illnesses to humans than would have been possible without them. Factory farms are causing disasters for humans, and the environment.

Works Cited

  1. Anomaly, John. “What’s Wrong With Factory Farming?”. Public Health Ethics, Nov. 2015, vol. 8 issue 3, p246-254. Academic Search Premier, doi:10.1093/phe/phu001.
  2. DuPuis, Melanie E. , Charles Giesler. “Biotechnology and the Small Farm” BioScience, Jun. 1988, vol. 38 issue 6, p406-411. permalink:
  3. Fox, Michael W. “Factory Farming”. The Institute for the Study of Animal Problems, 1980 permalink:
  4. Horrigan, Leo, Robert S. Lawrence, and Polly Walker. “How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture”.
  5. Environmental Health Perspectives, May 2002, vol. 110 issue p445-456 permalink: Lakoff, George. “Why it
  6. Matters How We Frame the Environment”. Praxis Forum, Mar. 2010, vol. 4 issue 1, p70-81. doi:
  7. Nierenberg, Danielle. “Factory Farming in the Developing World”. World Watch May/June is a few 2003 vol. 16, issue 3 p10-19, EBSCO MegaFile permalink:
  8. Sayre, Laura. “The Hidden Link Between Factory Farms and Human Illness”. Mother Earth News, Feb./Mar. 2009, issue 232, p76-83, MasterFILE Premier, permalink:

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Do Factory Farms Do More Harm Than Good?. (2022, Apr 26). Retrieved from

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