Animal Cruelty and Public Health Hazards in the Factory Farming Industry
Over the last few decades farming animals for food has grown and evolved into a highly efficient, streamlined industry known as factory farming. Factory farms are owned and operated by big corporations, and despite the fact they make up only a small percentage of farms in the United States, they are responsible for most of the meat and eggs we consume here (Sierra Club, 2005). In factory farming, baby piglets are castrated without anesthesia and thrown into a pen, where they huddle in a corner writhing in pain. Egg laying chickens are crammed four or five to a cage (45x50cm) for their entire lives. They cannot spread their wings or stretch out in any way, and they never see daylight. To prevent them from pecking at one another, their beaks are brutally burnt or sliced to a stub. To produce veal, newborn calves are confined in small crates and restrained to allow a minimum of movement until they are slaughtered at just five months old. Factory farmed animals are treated like non-living commodities, suffering horrendous cruelties to produce the maximum profit at the least amount of cost. In recent years public awareness about factory farming conditions has grown, and so have concerns over animal cruelty and public health. The general public should not tolerate animal cruelty in the factory farming industry because it is extremely inhumane to animals and it represents a growing health hazard for human beings; instead, consumers should put pressure on the industry to change the way animals are treated and to ensure farms do not pose a threat to public health.
Before the appearance of industrial style techniques for producing animal products, farm animals were treated with dignity and respect. Factory farming as an industry began in the US sometime after World War II, when soldiers came home from the war and the American population began to grow rapidly, Food production went into high gear, and soon family run farms began to disappear in favor of big corporations using industrialized farming techniques. The family farms of the past produced diverse animal products and supplied the communities in their area with enough food and animal products to meet their basic needs. This type of farming was sustainable and animals were cared for and treated with dignity. “Today, factory farms are run more like industries than the mini-ecosystems of traditional family farms (Lessing, 2009).” Animals are not treated with dignity at all; instead they are treated as non-living commodities to be exploited for profit.
Factory farming causes more pain, suffering and harm to more animals than any other human institution or practice. Animals on these farms have no rights and the only legal protection they have is the “Humane Slaughter Act, which doesn’t cover birds—most of the animals consumed—or rabbits, is rarely enforced, and has no bearing on living conditions, handling, or transport (DeGrazia, 2009).” In the United States alone, over 8 billion animals a year are raised and slaughtered on factory farms in horrendous and unconscionable conditions like overcrowding and being forced to live, eat and sleep in their own urine and feces. Our indifference to the plight of animals that we depend on for food not only causes unnecessary pain and suffering, but may also represent a health hazard to humans as well.
There are two aspects of factory farming that represent significant health risks to humans. One is the tremendous amount of waste produced by animals on factory farms and the other is the fact so many animals being raised in closely confined quarters tend to be susceptible to disease (Lessing, 2009). Factory farms generally deal with the excessive animal waste they produce by storing it in what’s known as manure lagoons. These lagoons produce huge...