New report reveals how factory farming puts public health and planet’s future at risk
The 5 worst health impacts of factory farming
Physical and mental impacts for workers:
Within factory farming systems, physical and mental health impacts suffered by workers include; poor working conditions in meat slaughtering, processing and packaging facilities, physical injury and psychosocial and mental health issues.
Illnesses from environmental contamination:
Factory farming produces large amounts of animal waste that pollutes our air with roughly 400 different harmful gases. Heavy metals like zinc are added to factory farmed animals’ diets and are excreted, contaminating waterways. This heavy metal contamination of food causes one million illnesses each year. Pesticides also contaminate our waterways, and more pesticides go to crops destined to feed animals suffering on factory farms than anywhere else. These impacts of air and water pollution are felt most by those living close to factory farms or animal feed production.
Cruel factory farming induces immense stress in animals, leaving them prone to bacteria or parasites that can cause foodborne illness in people, such as Salmonella. An estimated 35% of all foodborne diseases globally are linked to meat, dairy or eggs, which is costing lower income countries billions in USD each year in lost productivity and medical expenses.
Superbugs and diseases:
Three-quarters of the world’s antibiotics are used in farmed animals, either to prevent them getting sick,promote fast growth or treat disease – a practice driving the emergence of superbugs (antimicrobial resistant bacteria), which leaves us less able to fight infections. New research has found that 1.27 million people die each year from superbugs, and it is estimated that by 2050 this will be the leading cause of death globally. On top of this threat, factory farms squash stressed animals into tightly packed sheds, risking disease like swine flu or bird flu that can jump to humans.
Malnutrition and obesity:
Factory farming systems have displaced local and sustainable food production. Land is used to plant crops to feed factory farmed animals, not people, undermining nutrition and food security. At the same time, high volumes of cheap meat produced out of factory farms is equating to excessive meat consumption - one of the four leading risk factors for chronic illness
Jacqueline Mills, Head of Farming, at World Animal Protection, said:
“Factory farms are making us sick. On the surface, factory farmed meat, fish and dairy products seem cheap, but they are costing us our health and governments trillions of dollars each year to mop up the damage.
“We need to break the cycle of suffering in our food system. Government support for cheap meat is equating to more animals being churned through cruel factory farms. Now is the time for governments to focus on better health outcomes for people, animals and the planet.
“There is no future for factory farms. We need a moratorium on factory farming. The food industry needs to embrace a humane and sustainable future where we consume predominantly plant-based diets, and remaining farmed animals are kept in genuinely high welfare systems where they can have good lives.”
Systemic shifts are needed to deliver the biggest health gains for our population. Some of those include re-orientating subsidies away from factory farming towards humane and sustainable practices, supporting efforts to significantly reduce meat and dairy production and consumption in countries with high average per person consumption, improving affordability of plant-based foods, and providing transition support for farmers no longer wishing to engage in factory farming.
In order to make these shifts, World Animal Protection is calling for governments around the world to impose a moratorium on factory farms and introduce and enforce higher farmed animal welfare standards.