“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
|| Ghandi ||
Environmental fallout from factory farming
Factory farming is a major contributor to global warming as it releases enormous
quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Livestock farming (this includes all animal farming, not just factory farmed) accounts for around 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the global transport sector releases.
Carbon dioxide isn’t the only problem. Gases, including methane and nitrous oxide, are also produced in large quantities and are released into the environment through animal waste and fertilisers. Livestock farming (again, all animal farming, not just factory farming) produces 37% of global methane emissions, and 65% of global nitrous oxide emissions. Both gases are more potent than carbon dioxide.
Forest clearance is a major problem. Forests provide carbon sinks and are essential in containing carbon dioxide, yet vast tracts of forests are cleared annually in order to create land to grow crops that are fed to animals, and to create the land on which to raise animals. Approximately one third of the land that is given over to growing crops is used for growing animal feed.
Factory farming also uses vast amounts of energy, both to rear the animals in the giant hangars and pens and feedlots, but also to grow the enormous amounts of feed they need.
Let’s not forget about water. According to the WWF, livestock production accounts for around 23% of all water used in agriculture - equivalent to more than 1,150 litres per person per day. Water is also used in vast quantities to irrigate the crops that are grown to feed the animals.
Waste produced and released by factory farms is a massive problem, causing major incidents of river and lake pollution, and through nitrogen emissions that turn into ammonia, water acidification and ozone layer depletion.
Human Health and Factory Farming
The vast majority of dietary and nutritional professionals advocate a diet low in meat (an increasing number recommend no meat at all) and high in vegetables, grains and fruit.
The huge increase in the consumption of meat and animal-derived products (milk, cream, yoghurt, cheese, eggs) has led to a very significant rise in the incidence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, certain forms of cancer, as well as an exponential rise in obesity.
On factory farms, animals are forced to live in close proximity to each other in severely cramped conditions. Such conditions increase the risk of diseases being transmitted and mutating into more dangerous strains, and the possible subsequent jumping of a particular virus from animal to human.
There is a high risk of food-borne illnesses such as E. coli and Salmonella occurring on factory farms. These can cause gastroenteritis and, sometimes, death in vulnerable humans.
The use of antibiotics to prevent disease is a widespread practice on many factory farms. These antibiotics are used to prevent infection, but because they are so widely used, and because the antibiotics transfer to the human population when the meat is eaten, there is now a major issue with regard to the ineffectiveness of antibiotics in dealing with infections in the human population.
Factory farming can adversely affect our health through the vast amounts of animal waste being emitted daily from tens of thousands of factory farms across the world, polluting the air, the land, the rivers and lakes.
It’s easy to eliminate meat, eggs, and dairy from our diets and replace them with vegetable proteins that protect our health instead of harming it.
THE ANIMAL RIGHTS POSITION
You only have to consider the whimpering of a lonely puppy, or the distressing behaviour of animals in zoos and on factory farms, or the outward display of grief by a herd of elephants when one of its members dies or is killed, to understand that animals are capable of
psychological suffering, even trauma.
The problem all these animals have is this: THEY AREN’T HUMAN. We deny them their most basic of rights over and over again, including the most basic right of all, the right to life, simply because they are not US, they are OTHER.
Animals are sentient beings, like us. They deserve to be treated with respect, and respect for the dignity and the essence of their lives is fundamental to the animal rights position.
Animals Behind Closed Doors campaigns for an end to factory farming; that is what we put our energy and our creative minds into …
… however, belief in the fundamental rights of animals is our cornerstone.
Why should animals have rights? They can’t vote. They can’t form unions or other pressure groups. They have no religion and few morals that we know of. They don’t learn the violin, or go to ballet classes, or host dinner parties. Why give them rights?
Well, for a start, you can say pretty much the same thing about certain classes of humans; babies, the senile, those with severe and irreparable brain damage. Yet we don’t kill them or steal from them. We don’t keep them in cages or raise them for food. We don’t use them for laboratory experiments, even though undoubtedly it would benefit medical research enormously. Why do we give these rights to babies and the rest but not to cats, cows, rabbits, mice, pigs and all the other animals?
It’s certainly not because the animals don’t want to live, because one thing all animals share with humans is an innate desire not to be killed.
It’s not because animals can’t feel pain, for they, too, just like us, have a central nervous system and can experience acute pain.
It’s not because they can’t suffer mentally. It is now an accepted scientific fact that animals can experience not only physical pain and pleasure, but also a wide range of emotions, including anxiety, fear, frustration, hope, joy, and so forth.