In his “Farmageddon”, environmentalist Philip Limbury reflects on the challenges of modern large-scale livestock farming.
It describes in detail the suffering of humans and animals, air and water pollution, apocalyptic predictions and hopeful ideas.
The book would only benefit if Limbury, together with his co-author, journalist Isabel Oakeshott, paid more attention to the advantages and disadvantages of traditional and alternative methods of farming and the latest technologies based on the achievements of genetics.
But even without that, their detailed report leaves no illusions: society needs to abandon its carnivorous habits.
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In nature, everything is thought out.
Animals feed on plants (mostly unsuitable for humans).
Organics processed by them fertilizes the soil, promotes the growth of vegetation.
People eat meat, which in principle does not violate the natural cycle. But how exactly is this meat produced? In commercial farms, animals are deprived of the necessary space, pumped with antibiotics, fed with grain and other food products that could feed billions of people.
What do people get in return? A cheap, unhealthy protein whose production leads to environmental destruction.
“On the land where megafarm reigns, everything: people, livestock and the environment – obeys the cruel law of gradual depletion and exhaustion of resources. The maximum is squeezed out of each. ”
Eloquent examples of human attempts to intervene in natural chains.
In 1958, Mao Zedong tried to increase the yield of crops, urging compatriots to kill sparrows.
It was believed that sparrows eat sown seeds. However, as it soon became clear, they also destroy pests such as locusts. Due to proliferated pests, yields were significantly reduced, which caused hunger.
Today, both developing and developed countries repeat the mistake of the Great Helmsman over and over again, believing that they will be able to improve the natural system. Intensive industrialization of agriculture leads to the contamination of soil, the oceans, the atmosphere and living things, without bringing any benefits.
“It is generally accepted that industrial agriculture – in which the complex art of caring for animals and cultivating the land is treated as if it were an ordinary business – is the only way to produce inexpensive meat.”
In 1947, an Agricultural Act was passed in the United Kingdom calling for state support for effective agricultural practices. From that moment on, industrial livestock farming began in the country.
But to this day, the flaws of modern methods have far exceeded their merits. In livestock and fish farming, feeds are used that could solve the problem of world hunger.
They are fed cattle and fish with negative economic efficiency in excess of –300%. Cattle, poultry and fish are driven into confined spaces, and monocultures are grown on vast areas.
This approach has shown its complete failure. A return to traditional, more natural methods of farming and fish farming will help preserve human health and the environment. Change is ripe.
The U.S. Valley of California has the highest performing megafarm in the world.
Many of them are located in that part of which is characterized by a semi-desert climate. Mega-farms require huge volumes of water delivered through pipelines from distant rivers and reservoirs.
To produce vegetables, fruits, flowers, chicken, meat, and milk, farmers fill the soil with a mixture of water and chemicals. There were practically no insects and birds left in the valley that would fly to the fields for food if the air and soil were not so polluted. People get sick from toxic substances, their lifetime is reduced.
“The starving inhabitants of the Earth have become a convenient cover for a very dubious business in which profit is valued above the efficient production of healthy food.”
California Valley mega-farms contain nearly two million cows.
With soil water, manure enters the local water system. Farmers seek to get as much milk as possible, which leads to a reduction in an animal lifetime by an average of 10 years. They themselves work in difficult financial conditions, in a state of eternal stress, feeling the need to constantly increase production volumes. Similar methods prevail in world agriculture, but their further use threatens humanity with catastrophe.
A perverted system, in theory intended to produce healthy food, in practice has caused suffering to humans and animals.
In 1962, the book Silent Spring by biologist Rachel Carson was launched, which marked the beginning of the environmental movement.
Carson warned of the negative consequences of using pesticides, and her activities ultimately led to the ban on DDT. However, production in industrial agriculture is still growing, increasing environmental pollution.
Since the release of Carson’s book, the number of birds in various regions of the United States and Britain has fallen by 50–95%. Around the world, bee and butterfly populations have been mortally threatened.
Fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides kill bees and insects, setting in motion a chain reaction that can completely destroy food chains. It is impossible to replace bees pollinating plants with any of the most modern scientific methods.
In China, instead of extinct bees, the labor of whole armies of peasants is used, engaged in manual pollination. In developed countries, farmers spend a lot of money annually on transporting bee colonies.
“Eighty percent of starving children live in food-exporting countries.”
International corporations have convinced Indian farmers to use Western pesticides and farming methods designed for completely different climatic conditions. The abandonment of traditional methods of agriculture and attempts to grow grain GM crops caused crop failures. Farmers were on the verge of bankruptcy. The statistics are shocking: since 1995, more than 250 thousand Indian farmers have committed suicide.
The world’s largest poultry farm litters the Chesapeake Bay, famous for its crabs and oysters, with chicken droppings. Until recently, a huge amount of fresh seafood was mined in it. Now, the number of populations of crab and oysters has decreased 100 times. Aquatic animals of the Chesapeake Bay were sacrificed to tasteless, unhealthy, cheap chicken meat.
“About a fifth of the world’s catches go to feed other fish.”
The production of chicken eggs and meat is nothing but a nightmare.
Chickens are placed in cells so small that they can barely move. Farmers pump them with antibiotics to increase egg production or weight. In the state of Georgia, which is considered the capital of chicken breeding in the United States, production is controlled by giant corporations.
Farmers who do not want to use the methods imposed by corporations run the risk of losing both their markets and their personal funds.
In order to feed fish grown in artificial cages, it is necessary to catch and process millions of tons of wild fish that people could use for food. A significant portion of the food for farmed fish worldwide is made up of protein-rich anchovies and plankton, which are mainly found off the coast of Peru.
A large-scale reduction in the populations of small fish deprives the usual food sources of seabirds and large fish, which leads to a decrease in their number. As a result, local fishermen are left without work. Instead of feeding the starving children of Peru, small fish are used as food on fish farms in the world.
“The better it is to feed animals using a variety of natural feeds, the tastier and healthier the meat.”
In artificial fish farming, the same perverse logic operates as in industrial animal husbandry.
Preference is not given to balanced natural systems, but to human-developed production processes. For the sake of the production of sick and tasteless fish, the meat of which looks familiar only with the addition of special food colors, a healthy commercial fish is sacrificed. Captive fish can infect wild animals.
In South Asia, fish are fed chicken giblets and animal waste. Fish farms and fish processing lead to environmental pollution – not only ocean water, but also beaches, and this, in turn, deprives people of their jobs and negatively affects the tourism industry.
Giant Mexican pig farms – however, like any agro-industrial complex – consume huge volumes of water, fuel, and feed, and produce a product of poor quality that is not useful to humans.
There is growing evidence that dangerous pigs can develop in such pig farms. The unnatural conditions in which pigs are raised lead to diseases, the development of which can only be stopped by the constant administration of antibiotics to animals.
But they do not always save. In 2009, a new type of virus called “swine flu” developed in the Perot Valley in Mexico, which has infected thousands of people around the world.
In the late 1990s, bird flu, another infection that originated in Asia, led to the deaths of hundreds of people on five continents. Similar infections are spread due to unsanitary conditions on farms,
The Nutritional Value of Meat
The nutritional value of meat produced industrially is significantly inferior to organic livestock products: it contains more fat and substances harmful to humans, such as chemical additives.
Studies show that the ratio of “bad” to “good” fats in mass-produced meat reaches 50: 1, and in organic less than 3: 1. The meat of animals that grazed, but did not eat grain, contains more omega-3 fats and antioxidants that enhance human health.
Genetically Modified Cultures
Meat consumption in rich countries is currently three times higher than studies show as good for health.
This leads to an additional burden on the environment. To feed chickens, pigs and cattle, huge tracts of land are allocated for fodder crops, much larger than if cattle were allowed to simply graze.
Farmers who grow genetically modified soybeans, wheat, and corn will benefit at first, but soon the land is depleted and begins to require ever greater doses of fertilizer and chemicals. This race ends with complete exhaustion when nothing can grow on the earth that would be of value to nature and man.
“Lack of food will obviously become an increasingly important factor in modern politics, one of the possible causes of wars.”
As experiments show, rats fed with genetically modified food gain extra weight, do not produce offspring, and suffer from liver and kidney diseases. No one knows what effect genetically modified foods can have on people.
The European Union has completely banned GM products, but in the US they are widespread and often not labeled at all.
The production of feed for world livestock farming requires the use of land equivalent to half the territory of the United States. Grain going to feed livestock could feed half the world’s population. The mass production of meat and milk annually takes 25% of the world’s freshwater reserves.
This is at least 40 times more than would be required for the natural development of the same livestock. In the northern regions of Brazil, authorities give permission to cut down rainforests with diverse flora and fauna, which is the property of the whole Earth, only in order to make room for megafarm controlled by foreigners.
The local population, living with the gifts of the forest, is forced to leave their usual territories, which leads to the destruction of ancient cultures.
In the United States, thousands of effluents containing millions of tons of pig manure pose a serious environmental hazard.
In 1995, 117 million tons of manure fell into the New River in North Carolina, resulting in the death of 1.5 million fish. Attempts by the US and European Union administrations to introduce norms and standards for livestock waste have so far failed. Wastewater treatment is too expensive for farms, so despite all the norms, “industrial accidents” occur again and again.
In China, which contains about half of the world’s pig population, wastewater, without any treatment, goes directly to rivers and lakes. The use of antibiotics is not officially controlled in any way, so uneducated farmers resort to antibiotics at the slightest sign of animal diseases. The rapid industrialization of China has led to environmental pollution, while agriculture has not become more progressive.
As many times already happened in history, when a person lives side by side with animals in unsanitary conditions, intractable viral diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans and then spread around the world in a few weeks.
If according to forecasts, meat consumption will double by 2045, then almost every inhabitant of the planet will have to face restrictions in the use of freshwater. Rising ocean levels will lead to flooding of fertile land. No matter what methods and methods are used, the level of consumption of Asian countries cannot be brought to Western standards without destroying the Earth’s ecosystem.
Science can play an important role in solving the global food problem. One cup of “golden rice” developed in the laboratory contains a daily ration of the necessary substances; it can save millions of children from hunger. Not fewer opportunities are opened by growing in the laboratory vitamins rich, lean, tasty and healthy meat.
Seaweed with its high protein concentration can feed at least 10 billion people while occupying an insignificant part of the world’s oceans. In Alaska, approximately half of the salmon caught is fish that were raised in captivity and then released into the open sea. When mature individuals return to their place of birth to spawn, they can be caught without harming the environment.
“Despite all the achievements of mankind, the continuation of its existence depends on a thin layer of fertile soil and on the rain” (Confucius).
Ordinary people around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of industrial food production. Social movements for the exact labeling of food products, more natural methods for the production of meat and eggs, and environmentally friendly fruits and vegetables can change current trends.
People should abandon the excessive consumption of meat and switch to a balanced diet containing fruits, vegetables, other food products produced in large quantities, but in a natural way.
- Picturesque pictures and tales on the packaging of products cannot be trusted. Modern livestock breeding is carried out mainly in enclosed spaces.
- Billions of chickens, pigs, and cows exist in terrible, often unsanitary, conditions.
- The nutritional value of meat produced industrially is significantly inferior to organic livestock products.
- Grain going to feed livestock could feed half the world’s population.
- Fish that are farmed are fed chicken or small commercial fish that people could eat.
- Huge agricultural farms pollute the air, rivers, and reservoirs. This leads to the extinction of birds and butterflies and threatens bee populations.
- The development of fisheries leads to a reduction in the number of wild fish and pollution of beaches around the world.
- Developed countries consume more meat. This leads to the necessity of planting large areas with forage crops, deforestation and the relocation of local residents.
- Leaders of countries and corporations argued that industrialization of agriculture could “feed the world.” Modern agriculture pollutes the environment and produces products that are often harmful to human health.
- It should be replaced by both traditional methods of animal husbandry and new technologies, such as GM crops or meat grown in the laboratory.
Why You Should Read “Farmageddon”
- To rethink your and your family diet
- To stop eating meat and fish
- To go vegetarian and change your life forever
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