Humans have become reliant on hormone enhanced meats for cheap and abundant food. Most agriculture production for animals has been using hormone altering medicines. The changes that are made through injections include faster muscle and growth development, resulting in more products in shorter time periods. Beef specific breeding of steers produce more meat than dairy steers, “This is shown by the improvement obtained for beef over dairy breeds in live weight of 12%, while the improvement of carcass and meat produced of 24% and 33%, respectively” (Clarke, 2009). The main animals included are poultry, cattle, and pigs. These altering effects are the reason why eggs, chicken, milk, beef, bacon, pork and much more are relatively cheap to other fresh products. “I’d bet my first grandchild that 250 million Americans out of 300 million are being exposed to six or more pesticides a day,” says Charles Benbrook, chief scientist at the Organic Center, a pro-organic think tank in Boulder, Colorado (Schardt, 2007). But, beside the benefits of cheap foods, they are causing health problems and environmental issues. To stop the unhealthy lifestyle, we must find alternatives and follow a more suitable solution for this dilemma. Although hormone injected animals produce more products faster, we need to slow consumption and production because there are negative effects associated with consumers, environmental issues, and practice alternatives to end suffering from the cheap abundant products.
One of the effects of consuming hormone altered food products are the advanced maturity rate in females. Young girls who consume above average amounts of the enhanced products have a tendency of maturing faster than girls who don’t eat as much of the same products. Studies have proven this idea; puberty has been acquired at a younger age from eating more of the hormone products. “Early puberty in girls has been found to be associated with a higher risk for breast cancer. Height, weight, diet, exercise, and family history have all been found to influence age of puberty” (Consumer Concerns About Hormones in Food). The effects the hormones are also believed to increase chances of breast cancer development. Young girls are greatly affected by the consumption of the enriched products, especially from health concerns with breast and other forms of cancer. Females have been known for developing such diseases from eating the cheap products. “The recent paper by Lukacs (2008) regarding the roles of fertility and agriculture in sex differences in dental caries rates is important in that it highlights the role of increased demands on women’s reproductive systems in the decline of oral health among women” (Grant, 2009). The products are found everywhere, from restaurants to gas stations; the unhealthy product is almost unavoidable. For females to negate these products, chances are slim since the only way to eat uncontaminated fresh foods would be to shop organically at markets. One out of eight women is affected from the disease of breast cancer in general, that can be reduced if not so much hormone products were eaten. “Dairy cow growth hormones are linked to cancer in humans. The number of residual hormones found in cow milk is as much as 10 times higher than non-treated cows. Several studies have linked these high levels of residual hormones to an increased risk of breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer in humans” (Serving Food with a Side of Growth Hormones). Females are not the only ones affected by the products; males have to be cautious of health issues also.
Males are known to have problems under the circumstances where mothers while pregnant consume above average amounts of hormone injected foods. Smoking, drinking and drugs are all bad for a pregnant women and fetus’, one thing to include is too much hormone enriched products.
“Our study suggests that semen quality may be influenced by food intake. Men with poor semen quality had a more frequent intake of some food items that may adversely affect semen quality or that act as carriers of deleterious products to the reproductive system. Our results are consistent with poor semen quality associated with a higher intake of products that may incorporate xenobiotics, mainly xenoestrogens or certain anabolic steroids 34 S.H. Swan, F. Liu, J.W. Overstreet, C. Brazil and N.E. Skakkebaek, Semen quality of fertile US males in relation to their mothers’ beef consumption during pregnancy, Hum Reprod 22 (2007), pp. 1497–1502. Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (16)and. The use of these compounds in the food industry results in an increased total level of xenoestrogens and sex steroids in processed foods, such as meat or milk, whose intake contributes significantly to daily exposures” (Mendiola, 2009).
Male infertility is growing; one reason that is responsible for the over consumption of hormone-injected food. According to a study,
The scientists compared sperm concentrations and quality among the men born to women in the high and low beef consumption groups. They found that, Sperm concentration (volume) was 24.3 percent higher in the sons of mothers in the “low” beef consumption group. Almost 18 percent of the sons born to women in the high beef consumption group had sperm concentrations below the World Health Organization threshold for sub fertility about three-times more than in the sons of women in the low consumption group (Swan, 2007).
Infertility is a common problem; see it on the television and news. People must be aware of the consumer effects from the enriched products, is some way or form, over eating them will cause harm.
Both Blue Vinyl and My Year of Meats show how globalization uses women, technology, minorities, and animals to feed the insatiable modern desire to consume and to appropriate otherness for profit and power; both also draw on humor to convey their activist messages. They expose the intersection of environmental degradation that harms animals and humans at the levels of manufacturing, consuming, marketing, and disposal of materials, emphasizing through narrative, irony, and pastiche the “commodity chain” that begins with resource extraction and ends with the purchase, use, and disposal of waste in both meat and vinyl production (Fish, 2009).
Fish is an author who read and researched work of Judith Helfand and Daniel Gold for further explanation and effects of hormone injected meats. Aside from harmful consumer effects, mass production of these products causes environmental issues. Environmental issues are a growing concern for planet Earth and a huge contributor is mass production of farm animals. These mass production farms are a growing threat to the environment because it is causing excessive pollution. A survey in Canada has concluded that, “The median WTP (willing to pay) was a 20% premium for the environmental group compared to a 10% premium for the general population” (Belcher, 2007). From the information, people can infer that if the general population is more environmentally aware of how much of an impact farm animals were on the atmosphere, results may differ greatly. Farm animals that are hormone enhanced eat excessively in order to maintain the altered growth rate and size. From the excessive eating, the animals have extreme amounts of solid waste. While composting the solids is an almost perfect solution, it is also more time consuming and costly to farmers who are looking for cheap and fast solutions. Instead of composting solid waste, the animal manure is thrown into rivers and lakes, which contributes to several problems. According to Joshua Monaghan of King Conservation District this method of disposal creates problems such as, “nitrogen loading, decreased oxygen, contamination of shellfish beds, and damage to fish habitat and food sources” (Monaghan). One easy solution may benefit one thing, but may harm another, farmers must find the easiest and cheapest method to dispose the waste in order to aid in environmental safety. Another important environmental issue is something called the gassing effect.
The gassing effect is a problem caused from the over populated farm animals passing gas in excessive amounts to the atmosphere. It is proven that global warming is happening, one cause that is contributing is farting farm animals. According to Anra Kennedy, “One of the gases found in farts and burps is called ‘methane’. A certain amount of methane in the atmosphere is natural, and is a good thing. Along with other so-called ‘greenhouse gases’ methane collects in the sky and traps warm air around our planet” (Kennedy, 2005). This has become a major problem for the entire planet; mass production of agricultural animals is causing unfixable damage.
These farm animals require an abundant amount of water usage. The water is used for hydration and some types of necessary cleaning. The water is also used for healthy grass growing on the farms. The amount that is required is extreme; water is pulled from rivers and lakes. With numerous amounts of farm land bunched together, the lakes and rivers are brought to simple streams and ponds. This change in land creates a transformation in climates, downstream of the farming, water streams that become, eventually raise the climate temperature of that region because there is not the same amount of cooling at river and lake locations. Although people use fertilizers for farming, the land properties greatly change from mass agriculture farming.
The land properties will change over time from the continuous nutrient draining. Year after year hundreds even thousands of farm animals flood fields of grass, grazing and eating every last green piece of grass. This process done yearly will eventually cause the fields to completely drain every nutrient of the field. Soon there will be more land to be cleared of trees and wildlife homes destroyed for more farmland because the farm animals ruined the grasslands already dedicated to them. Land property changes include the climate health. With more fields committed to agriculture and less wildlife lands and more destroyed trees, the climate will lose the oxygen/nitrogen to carbon/oxygen ratio. In other words, in those regions there won’t be enough oxygen to breath with way too much carbon dioxide being put into the atmosphere. This lack of oxygen can destroy smaller plant life in those regions, and each species has its role in climate health.
Scientists are also concerned about the environmental impacts of hormone residues in cow manure. Growth promoting hormones not only remain in the meat we consume, but they also pass through the cattle and are excreted in their manure. When manure from factory farms enters the surrounding environment, these hormones can contaminate surface and groundwater. Aquatic ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to hormone residues. Recent studies have demonstrated that exposure to hormones has a substantial effect on the gender and reproductive capacity of fish, throwing off the natural cycle (Artificial Hormones).
In result there would be a chain reaction for the negative health in the environment. The environmental issues are a result of mass production of farm animals and alternatives must be found and enforced.
To resolve the issue of over populating farm animals we must find alternatives to resolve the problem. “In addition to the use of hormones, many avenues are still open for increasing productivity in meat and milk production, including breeding programs, regulation of rumen fermentation, optimalization of the balance between the indirect and direct feeding of the ruminant organism proper, and disease control” (Velle). The over population has become an issue,
Cows raised on grass simply take longer to reach slaughter weight than cows raised on a richer diet, and the modern meat industry has devoted itself to shortening a beef calf’s allotted time on earth. ”In my grandfather’s day, steers were 4 or 5 years old at slaughter,” explained Rich Blair, who, at 45, is the younger of the brothers by four years. ”In the 50′s, when my father was ranching, it was 2 or 3. Now we get there at 14 to 16 months.” Fast food indeed (Pollan, 2002).
Organic products are one way to solve these issues. If farms were enforced to become organic only, there would be a fraction of the health problems associated with meats. Naturally the prices of organics are higher so consumers would decline from such high consumption, which would then benefit the environmental problems. Although, one must be careful as which product they buy, natural and organic are perceived as different product types.
Milk containing rBST is produced using bovine growth hormones that increase milk production in cows. Thus, milk labeled rBST-free does not use these hormones. Organic milk, in addition to not containing rBST, is also produced from cows that have not been fed grain that has been grown using pesticides or herbicides. Non-labeled milk contains rBST and is not organic. Thus, there are three levels of naturalness (Anstine, 2007).
With the declination of farmed animals, the excess area could benefit by shifting to vegetation agriculture. Vegetarianism is a quality choice to reduce the negative effects of hormone enhanced meat products. It would create improved overall health. Meat products are not a necessity; people can avoid meat products with vegetarianism and supplement replacement, such as vitamins.
Hormone injected agriculture is causing damage to numerous things and in numerous ways. With the welfare of the planet declining, additional issues that can be avoided should be resolved. Reconsidering the agriculture focus for production and consumers would be greatly appreciated from the environmental and health point of viewpoints. Simple lifestyle and agricultural changes should be made to accommodate the damage that has already been done.
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Artificial Hormones. Retrieved from http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/hormones/
Belcher, K., Schmutz, J., & Germann, A. (2007). Beef with environmental and quality attributes: Preferences of environmental group and general population consumers in Saskatchewan, Canada [electronic resource]. Agriculture and human values, 24(3), 333-342. Retrieved from Agricola database.
Clarke, A., Evans, R., Berry, D., Kenny, D., Drennan, M., & McGee, M. (2009). Intake, live animal scores/measurements and carcass composition and value of late-maturing beef and dairy breeds [electronic resource]. Livestock science, 126(1-3), 57-68. Retrieved from Agricola database.
Cornell University (2000) Consumer concerns about hormones in food. Retrieved from http://envirocancer.cornell.edu/Factsheet/Diet/fs37.hormones.cfm
Fish, C. (2009). The toxic body politic: Ethnicity, gender, and corrective eco-justice in Ruth Ozeki’s “My Year of Meats” and Judith Helfand and Daniel Gold’s “Blue Vinyl.” MELUS, 34(2), 43. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.
Grant, W. (2009). Regarding “Fertility and Agriculture Accentuate Sex Differences in Dental Caries Rates”. Current Anthropology, 50(6), 961-962. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.
Kennedy, A. (2005). Cow Farts: Global warming or a load of hot air? Retrieved from http://www.show.me.uk/site/news/STO873.html.
Mendiola, J., Torres-Cantero, A., Moreno-Grau, J., Ten, J., Roca, M., Moreno-Grau, S., et al. (2009). Food intake and its relationship with semen quality: a case-control study. Fertility & Sterility, 91(3), 812-818. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.01.020. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database.
Monaghan, J. Manure disposal guide. King Conservation District. Retrieved from http://www.kingcd.org/manure_disposal_factsheet.pdf.
Pollan, M. (2002). Power steer. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/31/magazine/power-steer.html?scp=1&sq=power%20steer&st=cse&pagewanted=2
Schardt, D. (2007). Organic food worth the price?. Nutrition action health letter, 34(6), 1. Retrieved from Agricola database.
Serving food with a side of growth hormones. Retrieved from http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/education/health-safety/growth-hormones.aspx
Swan, S.H, Lui, F., Overstreet, J.W., Brazil, C., & Skakkebaek, N.E.(2007). Growth hormones fed to beef cattle damage human health. Retrieved from http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_5543.cfm
Velle, W. (n.d.) The use of hormones in animal production. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/X6533E/X6533E01.htm
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