Factory farming is the modern solution to the decreasing ratio between food and the human population. It is projected that by 2050 we will have run out of food (Global Harvest Initiative) Factory farming is meant to solve this problem by creating a mass amount of meat in small factorized farms. These places are the opposite of free-range. Animals are kept in very small cages or stalls to minimize space and cost while maximizing output. There are many arguments against factory farming including, the inhumane treatment of animals, destruction of natural resources, and the negative health effects associated with this method of food production.
The health factors caused by factory farming are monumental and various. Some of the effects directly result from the consumption of tainted meat produced in factory farms while some are more indirect from pollution caused by the waste and runoff from factory farms.
Antibiotics are a medical marvel however in the food industry they are being abused to increase weight gain in beef cows, sheep, chickens, and more.
Farmers introduce low-level antibiotics into the animal at a young age and continue until it dies. The levels of antibiotics are non-therapeutic, they are not being used for infection or illness but purely for weight gain. According to Georgia Gugliemi, 80% of antibiotics purchased per year are used by factory farms, not humans. This means that livestock is being subjected to copious amounts of a drug intended for one-time use. Some chickens gain so much unnatural weight that their small legs can no longer support their weight.
They are either crushed or spend the rest of their sitting on the ground not getting any exercise or roaming free. These antibiotics have other very dangerous side effects aside from the physical harm to the animal. The low level of antibiotics sustained for a long time creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Similar to how old princes and kings would take low-level poisons for their entire lives to build up their immunity, bacterium the becomes used to the antibiotic rendering the medicine useless. This makes the animal sicker more often but more importantly, this can spread to humans. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria can survive the intense heat of the oven even if they are being cooked for an appropriate amount of time (Oxford Academic). When humans ingest this bacterium, they will become extremely sick and unfortunately, it is very difficult to get healthy. Antibiotics are useless so other cures must be thought up.
Like traditional farming, factory farming produces copious amounts of waste. Waste from factory farms totals 1 million pounds of manure per day, approximately three times the amount produced by all of the people in our country (Food is Power). Animal waste doesn’t go through sewage as human waste does so it is much more concentrated. Some of this waste is used as a fertilizer for crops while others are put in massive containers that store the waste to allow it to break down and be used in the future. However, they release a tremendous smell and can still contaminate the ground they are held in. Furthermore, the security of these “lagoons” can be compromised in storms or when it rains more than the farms had planned for. For example, in 1995 “an eight-acre pig-manure lagoon in North Carolina ruptured, spilling 22 million gallons of untreated waste into the New River, which killed millions of fish.” This kind of disaster can demolish entire ecosystems and throw off the balance of all living things. Other than the health risks caused by the management of waste, waste is often used as a fertilizer for the crops used to feed the animals. While technically natural, manure contains much higher levels of metals like Arsenic that are not safe for humans to ingest. The ground becomes oversaturated with this waste and when it rains or storms the runoff goes into streams in rivers which then flow into larger bodies of water that are often used as water supply intakes. There are dead zones in the sea due to runoff from factory farms that can’t support any life because of the high concentration of waste and its byproducts (Food is Power).
Insecticides and pesticides are detrimental to the environment as well. According to Food is Power, 750 million pounds of pesticides are used per year to maintain crop
s. As with waste the excess pesticides and chemicals are washed away into rivers and wipe out entire species throwing the surrounding areas into an unbalance.
Factory farming as a whole relates to STS in many ways but the pollution and chemicals relate especially because of their enormous impact on people’s lives. People essentially have no control over what they put into their bodies because almost all meat has chemicals in it and even if they don’t they are incredibly expensive. This relates to the article “Brain Moms and Radiation” because the government does not thoroughly explain the extent to which these chemicals and animal byproducts can affect the environment around us. Then there is the ethics behind keeping animals cooped up in such terrible conditions for the sole purpose of feeding people.
Factory farms cause pollution, ecosystem imbalances, and the development of the new virus. While global warming may be a tath the center of attention nowadays, the real focus should be on the epidemic that is factory farming. With the rising population and decrease in space required to house these animals, factory farming is only going to lead to bigger problems. Science has become a part of our everyday life in either a good or bad way we have all experienced it. We rely more and more on technology to get through every day and more often than not we don’t question it. Because of this tendency, improper use of science like in factory farming goes unnoticed until it is too late.