Did you know that 99% of meat, dairy, and egg products in the US come from factory farms (Smith)? That means that only 1% of animal products come from humane farms. Factory farming, or intensive animal farming, is a process to get animal products and is designed to maximize production and minimize costs at the same time. Almost all of the meat that Americans eat comes from these places. Although factory farms are said to take up less space, they shouldn’t be allowed because they create unhealthy products that can cause humans harm, they treat animals horribly, and they are destroying the environment at an alarming rate.
Factory farming is a good way to get food quickly and cheaply, but it comes at a price. The quality of food from factory farms is not high, which means that these foods often aren’t healthy for a consumer, and could be very bad news. Animals in factory farms are often fed chemicals and antibiotics to make them grow faster or produce more meat or products.
Many of these growth hormones can be dangerous to humans: “The six growth hormones commonly used by the U.S. dairy industry have been shown to significantly increase the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in beef consumers” (“Factory Farming and Human Health”). This shows that eating these animal products can lead to health problems through the chemicals in their diet. Not only can the diet of the animals cause the food to be unsafe to eat, but it highly increases the number of saturated fats in the product.
The animals in factory farms are fed very high-fat diets, which increases the number of saturated fats in the product and decreases the nutritional value of the food consumed (Link). The foods that factory farms produce have low nutritional values and can increase the risk of cancer.
Not only are factory farms bad for the consumers, but they are also horrible for the animals. Many of these factory farms don’t have much space, so neither do the animals. Many animals, especially birds such as chickens and turkeys, are crammed into such small cages that they can’t even walk around or spread their wings (“The Problem”). This can lead to numerous health problems such as leg deformity, and these environments aren’t natural for the bird. Not only do they not have enough room, but they are also killed at an extremely young age. Many kinds of animals are killed way earlier than they should be: “Cows exploited for dairy are treated as mere milk-producing machines—constantly cycling through pregnancy, birth, and milking until their bodies give out or their milk production is no longer profitable” (“The Problem”). Cows generally live for 20-25 years, but on factory farms, most are killed before they reach the age of 5. This happens to turkeys, chickens, and pigs as well. These animals are also put through a lot of unnecessary pain. Many animals are mistreated by factory workers and are put through pain that they shouldn’t be. For example, pigs’ tails are cut off and cows are dehorned and branded without anesthesia (Smith). These procedures aren’t necessary for the animals and can lead to infections and medical issues that often aren’t taken care of by the staff at these intensive farms. Animals don’t deserve the horrible treatment that they get in the intensive animal farming system.
One argument that people make for factory farming is that it takes up less space than regular, humane farms, and therefore is better for the environment. However, this is false. While the animals themselves may take up less space than they would if they were on larger farms, their food takes up just as much as they would. The amount of food needed to feed these animals is incredible, which makes sense because there are so many. The amount of land that is needed to grow this food to feed these animals is vast, so it doesn’t save any space after all (Lymbery). Not to mention that because there is so much land being used to grow this food, the amount of soil erosion, dead zones, and deforestation increases.
The factory farms are harming the animals, but they pose an even larger threat to humans through their environmental repercussions. Greenhouse gases are disintegrating the ozone layer right now, slowly killing the world that we live in. Factory farms are responsible for over one-third of the methane being emitted into the air (Good). Factory farms also emit 90 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year, but methane can have 4 times the effect of carbon dioxide. The emissions that these farms releases contribute highly to global warming. As mentioned before, the space needed to grow food for these animals is extensive. Factory farming is the cause of a lot of deforestation and uses %70 of the world’s freshwater supply (Good). Not only do these animals use most of the world’s fresh water supply, but what comes out the other end ruins what’s left of it. Many of these factory farms have places to keep the animal waste, which often contains chemicals, but sometimes these cesspools can leak. This waste ends up in rivers and streams, creating “dead zones” and killing massive amounts of animals (“Factory Farming & Food Safety”). This can also lead to people drinking bad water, giving them disease or sickness. All of these changes are negatively affecting the planet, and eventually, factory farming could threaten all life on earth.
Although factory farms are considered to take up less space, the facts that the food created isn’t good for consumers, that the animals are treated awfully, and that the environment is being destroyed at an alarming rate, show that factory farming has got to go. Factory farming isn’t good for the animals, who are crammed into small cages and not taken care of, or the people, because the meat from dairy farms can cause cancer and has a higher fat concentration compared to humane meat. This form of food agriculture is also ruining the planet as we speak. The methane and carbon dioxide being released from factory farms are killing the environment quickly and the runoff is killing the human water supply. Factory farms are horrible in many ways, and they have to be stopped before it’s too late to stop the damage they create.