Disturbing Facts on Factory Farming & Food Safety


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Jan 3, 2010
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The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past, which are still portrayed in children’s books, have been replaced by windowless metal sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems—what is now known as “factory farming.”


Facts and Data on Antibiotics and Factory Farming
Below are an assortment of facts and statistics relating to factory farm
issues - all information is referenced as fully as possible. For a more
detailed analysis, please refer to the individual links in the left sidebar.
Waste Pollution and the Environment
Animal Welfare
Antibiotics and Public Health
Sustainability (the good news!)


(1) Almost 30% of agricultural subsidies go to the top two percent of farms
and over four-fifths to the top 30%.

(2) In 1970, there were approximately 900,000 farms in the United States;
by 1997, there were only 139,000.

(3) Between 1969 and 1992, the number of producers selling 1000 hogs
annually or less declined 73%. Producers selling more than 1000 annually
increased 320%, according to the US Census of Agriculture.

(4) Estimated inputs to produce a pound of: Pork: 6.9 pounds of grain, .44
gallons of gasoline, 430 gallons of water Beef: 4.8 pounds of grain, .25
gallons of gasoline, 390 gallons of water

(5) Meat production has grown worldwide from 44 million tons in 1950 to 211
million tons in 1997.

(6) The price of meat would double or triple if full ecological costs -
including fossil fuel use, groundwater depletion and agricultural-chemical
pollution - were factored in.

(7) 90% of the nation's poultry production is controlled by 10 companies.
(8) In Maryland, chickens outnumber people 59 to 1.

(1) Horrigan, Leo, Lawrence, Robert S., Walker, Polly, "How Sustainable
Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of
Industrial Agriculture," Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable
Future, July 9, 1999
(2) Drabenscott, Mark. "This Little Piggy Went to MarketÖ", Economic
Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Vol. 83, No. 3, Third Quarter,
1998, pp. 79-97
(3) Swine Strategies, State of Utah Governor's Office of Planning and
Budget, Summer 1995
(4) Alan Durning, "Fat of the Land", World Watch Institute, 1991
(5) Earth Times, July 1, 1998
(6) EarthSave, November 1997
(7) Zakin, Susan. "Nonpoint Pollution: The Quiet Killer," Field and Stream,
August 1999, pp. 84-88.
(8) Ibid.

Antibiotics and Public Health
(1) Overuse of antibiotics in animals is causing more strains of
drug-resistant bacteria, which is affecting the treatment of various
life-threatening diseases in humans. The Institute of Medicine at the
National Academy of Sciences has estimated the annual cost of treating
antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. at $30 billion.

(2) Fifty million pounds of antibiotics are produced in the U.S. each year.
Twenty million pounds are given to animals, of which 80% (16 million
pounds) is used on livestock merely to promote more rapid growth. The
remaining 20% is used to help control the multitude of diseases that occur
under such tightly confined conditions, including anemia, influenza,
intestinal diseases, mastitis, metritis, orthostasis, and pneumonia.

(3) Chickens are reservoirs for many food borne pathogens including
Campylobacter and Salmonella. 20% of broiler chickens in the US are
contaminated with Salmonella and 80% are contaminated with Campylobacter in
the processing plant. Campylobacter is the most common known cause of
bacterial food borne illness in the US.

(4) 5000 deaths and 76 million cases of food-borne illness occur annually.

(5) Antibiotics in farm animals leave behind drug-resistant microbes in
meat and milk. With every burger and shake consumed, super-microbes settle
in the stomach where they transfer drug resistance to bacteria in the body,
making one more vulnerable to previously-treatable conditions.
(1) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, "Antimicrobial
Fact Sheet", May 4, 1999
(2) American Medical News, "FDA Pledges to Fight Overuse of Antibiotics in
Animals", February 15, 1999
(3) Risk Assessment of Fluoroquinolone Use in Poultry, Food & Drug
Administration, February 2000
(4) ibid.
(5) Newsweek, March 7, 1994

Waste Pollution and the Environment
(1) The USDA reports that animals in the US meat industry produce 61
million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human
waste - or five tons for every US citizen.

(2) North Carolina's 7,000,000 factory-raised hogs create four times as
much waste - stored in reeking, open cesspools - as the state's 6.5 million
people. The Delmarva Peninsula's 600 million chickens produce 400,000 tons
of manure a year.

(3) According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hog, chicken and
cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and
contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

(4) Pfiesteria, a microscopic organism that feeds off the phosphorus and
nitrogen found in manure, is a lethal toxin harmful to both humans and
fish. In 1991 alone, 1,000,000,000,000 (one billion) fish were killed by
pfiesteria in the Neuse River in North Carolina.

(5) Since 1995, an additional one billion fish have been killed from manure
runoff in estuaries and coastal areas in North Carolina, and the Maryland
and Virginia tributaries leading into the Chesapeake Bay. These deaths can
be directly related to the 10 million hogs currently being raised in North
Carolina and the 620 million chickens on the Eastern Shore of the
Chesapeake Bay.

(6) The pollution from animal waste causes respiratory problems, skin
infections, nausea, depression and even death for people who live near
factory farms. Livestock waste has been linked to six miscarriages in women
living near a hog factory in Indiana.

(7) In Virginia, state guidelines indicate that a safe level of fecal
coliform bacteria is 200 colonies per 100 milliliters of water. In 1997,
some streams had levels as high as 424,000 per 100 milliliters.

(1) Horrigan, Leo, Lawrence, Robert S., Walker, Polly, "How Sustainable
Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of
Industrial Agriculture," Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable
Future, July 9, 1999
(2) Chris Bedford, "How Our food is Produced Matters!", AWI Quarterly,
Summer 1999
(4) Zakin, Susan. "Nonpoint Pollution: The Quiet Killer," Field & Stream,
August 1999, p.86
(5) Environmental Protection Agency, 1998
(6) Centers for Disease Control, Mortality Weekly Report, July 5, 1996
(7) Washington Post, June 1, 1997

Animal Welfare
(1) Each full-grown chicken in a factory farm has as little as six-tenths
of a square foot of space. Because of the crowding, they often become
aggressive and sometimes eat each other. This has lead to the painful
practice of debeaking the birds.

(2) Hogs become aggressive in tight spaces and often bite each other's
tails, which has caused many farmers to cut the tails off.

(3) Concrete or slatted floors allow for easy removal of manure, but
because they are unnatural surfaces for pigs, the animals often suffer
skeletal deformities.

(4) Ammonia and other gases from manure irritate animals' lungs, to the
point where over 80% of US pigs have pneumonia upon slaughter.

(5) Due to genetic manipulation, 90% of broiler chickens have trouble

(1) Horrigan, Leo, Lawrence, Robert S., Walker, Polly, "How Sustainable
Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of
Industrial Agriculture," Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable
Future, July 9, 1999
(2) ibid.
(3) ibid.
(4) ibid.
(5) Erik Marcus, Vegan, Mcbooks, 1998

(1) The average American consumes nearly twice his or her weight in meat

(2) Poultry processing has almost double the injury and illness rate than
trades like coal mining and construction.

(3) The United Nations reports that all 17 of the world's major fishing
areas are at or beyond their natural limits. One third of all the world's
fish catch is fed directly to livestock.

(4) "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival on
earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." --Albert Einstein

(5) "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the
way its animals are treated. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the
more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man."
--Mohandas Ghandi
(1) Earth Times, July 1, 1998
(2) EarthSave, March 1998
(3) EarthSave, November 1997

Sustainability (The Good News!)
(1) Sustainable farming, once dismissed as the pastime of crackpots and
idealists, has grown into a business worth some $7.3 billion a year in the
European Union and around $15.6 billion worldwide.

(2) Organic farming became one of the fastest growing segments of U.S.
agriculture during the 1990's. Certified organic cropland more than doubled
from 1992 to 1997, and two organic livestock sectors-eggs and dairy-grew
even faster.

(3) The number of certified organic milk cows in the U.S. nearly tripled
between 1992 and 1994.

(4) The United States had 537,826 certified organic layer hens in 1997, up
sharply from 47,700 in 1994.

(5) Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) connects local farmers with
consumers; local farms grow food specifically for CSA members. As of
January 1999, there were over 1000 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
farms across the US and Canada.

(6) Responsible management of the natural resources of soil, water, and
wildlife on the 60 percent of all U.S. farms less than 180 acres in size,
produces significant environmental benefits for society.

(7) The smallest U.S. farms, those of 27 acres or less, have more than ten
times greater dollar output per acre than larger farms.

(8) In farming communities dominated by large corporate farms, nearby towns
died off. Where family farms predominated, there were more local
businesses, paved streets and sidewalks, schools, parks, churches, clubs,
and newspapers, better services, higher employment, and more civic

(9) In the United States, small farmers devote 17% of their area to
woodlands, compared to only 5% on large farms. Small farms maintain nearly
twice as much of their land in "soil improving uses," including cover crops
and green manures.

(1) Quote by Dr. Nicolas Lampkin, Agriculture Specialist, University of
Wales in Aberystwyth. Paul Ames, Associated Press, December 27, 1999
(2) Economic Research Service, USDA
(3) ibid.
(4) ibid.
(5) University of Massachusetts Extension
(6) A Time To Act report, USDA National Commission on Small Farms, 1998
(7) Dr. Peter Rosset, "The Multiple Functions and Benefits of Small Farm
Agriculture", Institute for Food and Development Policy, September 1999
(8) ibid.
(9) ibid.

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agriculture gag laws.


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