Factory Farming – A Boon or Curse

Table of Content

Roots of the man since centuries have been imbibed in the nature’s very most wonderful creatures on this Earth and they are animals. Capturing animals for sumptuous tastes or using their beautiful leather, fur or skin has always been their prodigious commotion. When even the zoos came into existence- humans were keeping the animals in captivity for worshipping or for fulfilling small needs. It was by third century B.C only, Romans introduced the animals for violent ways-chiefly for gladiatorial contests and triumphal processions. And during middle period they were used for royal sports-in bear-baiting and bull fighting. (Wolch, Anderson 29).

Slowly and slowly exhortation of animals started for the commercial use. As the time passed by, the demand for the animal products increased and with it increased the exploitation of animals in the name of commercialization, better quality of skin and eatable products.

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We enjoy beef, ham, chicken, all the flesh and bones of the animals and birds, children of the nature, in our cozy luxurious homes but we forget that behind all this there is a process of unending torture of animals in so called Factory Farms. The green pastures, huge farms and idyllic barnyard scenes are now the scenes of the past and now are just seen big buildings, in the walls of which lie the unlucky animals, waiting for their turn to get broken down to pieces to become the royals delicacy.

Factory farms of today are nothing less then the torture houses, where animals are crammed in a filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems and thus are devoid of all their natural habitats, without even giving them access to feel the sun and fresh air.

The animals like cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, calves, ducks and geese are jammed in small cages giving them no space for turning and this is done basically to minimize the costs. In the Industry journal National Hog Farmer says rhetorically, “Crowding Pigs Pays,” and egg-industry expert Bernard Rollins writes that “chickens are cheap; cages are expensive.” (PETA, Cruelty to Animals: Mechanized Madness, para.1,3)

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the animal rights movement in the United States, “Decade of the Animals” in 1992, Alex Hershaft, founder and President of FARM, during conference claimed that, “Farm animal suffering accounts for 95 per cent of animal suffering in the world and  nearly 8 billion animals are tortured and murdered on farms”. (Kunkel 242)  They are pumped in with antibiotics to weaken their immune systems for enabling them to tolerate unnatural conditions.

Injured cattle are dragged to slaughter house with bull dozers, chains or forklifts. Chickens are raised in broilers where they have to spend their entire lives in filthy sheds with tens or thousands of other birds and this led to outbreak of numerous diseases. They are drugged
so that they are grown so large that their legs and organs cannot balance properly. Many become crippled and eventually die.

DeFazio and Rep. Chris Shays, introduced the Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act, House Resolution 5557- a public policy for sensible and compassionate standards of animal husbandry, but it is not fully applicable. When only in United States 10 billion farm animals are used for food, but there is no federal law to ensure that animals have a decent life before they died even though the Human Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958 was passed ensuring the decent death of farm animals but it was ignored. (Markarian, Farm animals deserve better
lives, para.3)

In fact even Pope Benedict XVI stated that even though human has dominion over the animals but that just not justifies factory farming. Condemning these activities he said “industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds.” These seemed to him “to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.”(Singer, Minnesta Daily, para 5.).

Tyson, Smithfield, ConAgra and Seaboard are the companies, which has dominated the Industrial Scenario in Factory Farming and has thus led to depopulation and the decline of the family farming. Many argue that factory farming gives employment to large number of people and thus feed the growing population of our planet, but the truth, is opposite. In the endeavor to produce more meat, eggs or milk, it requires one pound of grain each to feed the animals, and thus it lead to more wastage and instead of increasing the total amount of food for human consumption, it reduces it. (Singer, Minnesta Daily, para. 5.).

Besides the torture of animals, the Factory Farming is incredulously harming our environment. As reported by Factoryfarming.com,  intensive animal agriculture is exhausting the natural resources. The major quantity of grains harvested in U.S is being fed to farm animals. As a result of this, agriculturists are exploiting vast stretches of agricultural land. Large number of lands including Forests, wetlands, and other natural ecosystems and wildlife habitats have been devastated and turned into crop and grazing land.

The ground water, fossil fuels, and topsoil resources are getting extinct. Moreover the waste produced by farm animals is more than 130 times greater than that produced by humans. Overflow of Agricultural lands resulted in the killing of millions of fish, and 60% of America’s rivers and streams became “impaired”.

In state where there is concentrated animal agriculture, the waterways have become endemic with pfiesteria bacteria. This pfiesteria can be harmful for humans in the sense that it can causes open sores, nausea, memory loss, fatigue and disorientation in humans. Even groundwater is being contaminated for example, the aquifer under the San Bernadino Dairy Preserve in southern California contains nitrates and other pollutants than water coming from sewage treatment plants. (Farm Sanctuary, online edition).

Environment, as is seen is being affected but along with that these Farm Factories which have been in vogue for our benefit are affecting our health too, causes numerous diseases which humans gets transmitted through animals they eat. Many Factory farms stores their animal waste in open lagoons. These Lagoons bursts and sending millions of gallons of manure into waterways and spreading microbes that can cause gastroenteritis, fevers, kidney failure, and death. (Marks  NRDC, 2001).

In the name of the advanced technology, meat, poultry, dairy and egg industries are using drugs, hormones, and other chemicals to increase the  production, and due to these, virulent pathogens which are resistant to antibiotics are increasing. These ‘supergerms,’ can cause
unknown human suffering and even deaths.

Peculiar new diseases have also been notified, for e.g. “Mad Cow Disease” (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE), a fatal dementia which affects cattle and when people ate cows with “Mad Cow Disease,” they are affected from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a fatal dementia that afflicts humans.  Yet another disease that can jeopardize human health is avian influenza. Millions of Americans are inflicted from the contaminated animal food products and thousands die every year.  (Farm Sanctuary, online edition).

Various studies have been conducted that shows the benefits of traditional farming as contrast to factory farming. Walter Godschmidt, in 1940 was the first person to study the negative impact of Factory farming on economy. He stated that, “Communities with absentee-owned industrial farms are less developed economically and socially than similar communities composed mainly of family farms.” (Farm sanctuary, Factory Farming.com).  Lot of efforts is being made to generate the awareness for the welfare of the animals and reduce the torture to
them in these slaughter houses.

Markarian reporting on the issue in the Opinion, The Register Guard says that McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s have issued instructions to their suppliers too meet improved animal welfare standards in their Farm houses. Wild Oats Natural
Marketplace is not selling eggs which are being brought from caged birds, Trader Joe’s has made a brand of eggs cage-free, and Whole Foods Market is also taking this step further by setting an animal welfare standards for its eggs, milk and meats.

Thus these efforts will go a long way to foster the better relation between man and animal as said by Wolch in Animal Geographies: Place, Politics and Identity in the Nature that “Animals shapes the formation of human identity”, and to these animals we owe our lives too so we should be more acquiescent to their needs and requirements.


  1.    Farm Sanctury, FactoryFarming.Com, “Human Health hazards”, Internet.  http://www.factoryfarming.com/health.htm,  March 14, 2007.
  2.  Kunkel R. Karl. “Down on the Farm: Rationale Expansion in Construction Farming as a Social Problem, “In Images of Issues: Typing Contemporary Social Problem by Joel Best,  Aldine Transaction, 1995. 239, 241, 242.
  3.  Markarian Michael, “Farm animals deserve better lives”,  The  Registered Guard, 23, June 2006. Available: http://www.registerguard.com/news/2006/06/23/ed.col.markarian.0623.p1.php?section=opinion
    March 14,2007
  4.   Marks Robbin, “Cesspools of Shame: How Factory farm Lagoons & Sprayfields Threaten Environmental and Public Health” NRDC  (2001) Internet. Available:     http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/cesspools/cesspools.pdf  March 14, 2007
  5.  PETA “Cruelty to Animals: Mechanized Madness” Internet. Available:     http://www.goveg.com/factoryFarming.asp March 14, 2007
  6.  Singer Peter, “Factory farming: A moral issue” The Minnesota Daily, 22 March 2006. Available: http://www.mndaily.com/articles/2006/03/21/67620 March 14, 2007
  7.  Wolch Anderson, “Animal Geographies: Place, Politics and Identity in the Nature-culture Borderlands”, Animal Science and Spectacle in the city, Kay Anderson, Introduction, Environmental Studies, Verso, 1998.


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