Essay 1 Cause/Effect – Factory-Farmed Animal Agriculture: A source of water pollution
Somewhere in the United States animals are being raised in confined pens, packed really tightly. To prevent animals from getting sick they are dosed with antibiotics. Some of the waste produce by these thousands of animals goes into manure lagoons that cause air pollution. Several of these animals are fed with American corn that was grown with the help of millions of tons of chemical fertilizers. When rain comes, the excess fertilizers are washed into the Rivers, where it will help kill fish for miles and miles around. By producing unlimited quantities of meat and grains, the agricultural industry can sell their products at apparent cheap prices, and a high cost to the environment, animals, and humans. Dough Gurian-Sherman describes “The way we farm now is destructive of the soil, the environment and us” (as cited in Walsh, 2009). Although chicken sounds like a good idea for dinner tonight, eating factory-farmed chicken causes more harm than good to us and the planet because factory-farmed animal agriculture accounts for most of the water consumed in this country, emits two-thirds of the world’s acid-rain-causing ammonia, and is the world’s largest source of water pollution.
Thanks to chemical fertilizers American farmers are able to pull more crops from a field, which helps them produce about 153 bu. of corn per acre. Is this really what we want? When we know that after these fertilizers are washed out from the field of the Midwest they may reach the Gulf of Mexico, and that contributes to what is known as a dead zone. According to Time Magazine Health the dead zone is approximately a 6,000-sq.-mi. area that has almost no oxygen and therefore almost no sea life (Walsh, 2009). The dead zone fluctuates in size each year stretching over 7,700 square feet during the summer of 2010. There are nearly 400 similar dead zones around the world. Besides destroying the sea life, these fertilizers will kill one of our healthiest sources of protein.
The food industry counts with what is called concentrated-animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Large numbers of animals that are kept in close concentrated conditions and fattened up for fast slaughter that contributes to more sales and lower prices. This is all great for our pocket, but is it really? There are some questions that we may have to ask ourselves to be able to come with a real solution that will help not just our pockets, but our environment, and as a consequence our own health. Where does all the manure from the concentrated-animal feeding operations go? According to Time Magazine Health, a pig produces approximately four times the amount of waste a human does, and most of their waste is disposed of in open-air lagoons. These lagoons may overflow and contaminate streams and rivers. (Walsh, 2009)
Assuming our dinner is just good, and safe to eat may be an understatement. Giant livestock farms produce vast amounts of waste, often equivalent of a small city. California officials identify agriculture as the major source of nitrate pollution in polluted groundwater. In Oklahoma nitrates from Seaboard Farms’ hog operations contaminated drinking water wells. In 1996 the Centers for Disease Control established a link between spontaneous abortions and high nitrate levels in Indiana drinking water wells located close to feedlots; in May 2000, 1300 cases of gastroenteritis were reported as a result of E. coli contaminating drinking water in Walkerton, Ontario. Health authorities believed the most likely source was cattle manure runoff. Manure from dairy cows is thought to have contributed to the disastrous cryptosporidium contamination of Milwaukee’s drinking water in 1993. In 1995 an eight-acre hog-waste lagoon in North Carolina burst, spilling 25 million gallons of manure into the New River, killing 10 million fish, and closing 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to shell fishing. Runoff of chicken and hog waste from factory farms in Maryland, and North Carolina is believed to have contributed to outbreaks of pfiesteria piscicida, killing millions of fish, and causing problems in local people. Ammonia, a toxic form of nitrogen, released in gas form during waste disposal can be carried more than 300 miles through the air before being dumped back onto the air, or into the water; where it cause algal blooms and fish kills. (Natural Resources. 2011)
Ten large companies produce more than 90 percent of the nation’s poultry. How can anybody say that all these farming practices are not affecting our environment?
Walsh, B., (2009). Getting real about the high price of cheap food (Eds.), Time Magazine Health. Retrieved from https://classes.uaf.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/contentWrapper.jsp?content_id=_1466397_1&displayName=Walsh%2C+Brian.+%22Getting+Real+About+the+High+Price+of+Cheap+Food%22&course_id=_103307_1&navItem=content&href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.time.com%2Ftime%2Fhealth%2Farticle%2F0%2C8599%2C1917458-1%2C00.html
Natural Resources Defense Council, the Earth’s Best Defense. (2011). Environmental Issues. Facts About Pollution from Livestock Farms. Retrieved from http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/ffarms.asp