BY VIVIAN WEINRESS
One of the most environmentally degrading and psychologically disturbing industries in the United States, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s), is consistently ignored by the media, causes extensive environmental degradation, and is wasting millions of government money in subsidies. Factory farming is the process of confining animals in unnatural conditions so as to maximize the amount of meat these industries can produce at the lowest cost. The amount of waste produced by so many animals in such a limited space often causes nearby lakes or rivers to become contaminated from runoff. These feeding operations are also very water intensive themselves, nearly 8% of human water use goes toward animal production. This does not include the amount of water that is needed to produce the crops for animal feed. The incredible amount of manure that so many animals create also emits greenhouse gases, such as methane, which contribute to global warming. The land needed to grow crops to feed these animals also has a huge impact on the environment mainly in the form of soil degradation. Farmers now use genetically modified organisms which can grow on soil that does not need to be replenished by growing different crops every couple of years. This ensures that the nutrients the crops are taking from the soil are not getting replenished and this often leads to soil desertification. These crops, primarily corn and soy beans, are heavily subsidized by the government and wastes millions of dollars annually to support an industry that is inefficient to begin with. The way in which these animals are mass produced is inconsistent with how the environment was structured to create meat and how humans were meant to consume meat. There needs to be an immediate change in the structure of governmental subsidies to encourage growth in industries that have positive impacts on its citizens.
Reference: Singer, Peter, and Jim Mason. The Ethics of What We Eat. Rodale, 2006. Print.