Factory Farming and Human Health
The unnatural feeds, hormones, and excessive quantities of antibiotics used on factory farms put the human population at risk for chronic disease, obesity, and drug-resistant bacteria, and pose the threat of major zoonotic disease outbreaks.
- According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, animal products are the primary source of saturated fat in the American diet. Saturated fat has been linked to heart disease and obesity. Studies have shown that the unnatural feeds used to promote growth in animals on factory farms increase the saturated fat content of meat.
- Cows in the dairy industry can be given growth hormones in order to increase their milk production. Once their productivity declines, these cows are slaughtered for beef. The six growth hormones commonly used by the U.S. dairy industry have been shown to significantly increase the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in beef consumers. Producers are not required to list the use of hormones on product labels.
- Since the 1950s, antibiotics have been used on factory farms to increase the rate of growth in animals. Today, an estimated 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to farm animals for non-therapeutic purposes. Using antibiotics in this way can lead to drug-resistant bacteria; as a result, certain bacterial infections have already become or are on their way to becoming untreatable in humans. Antibiotic resistant infections kill 90,000 Americans every year.
- Poor sanitation and waste management on factory farms and the poor management of animal waste can lead to the contamination of the food supply by bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella. Each year 76 million Americans become ill from foodborne illness, and thousands die.
- Some diseases, such as H1N1 (swine flu) and avian flu, are communicable from animals to humans. These “zoonotic” diseases have the potential to become pandemics. Experts believe that the outbreak of H1N1 was likely caused by the overcrowding of pigs on factory farms and the storage of their waste in giant manure lagoons.
For more information on the health risks for humans living near and working on factory farms, visit Factory Farming and Rural Communities