In terms of environmental issues, modern, industrial agriculture is amongst the biggest threats to our planet. Also known as ‘factory farming’, the practice focuses on the production of high volumes of cheap, unhealthy food for the masses and it has been in full swing since the 1970s. It’s an industry that’s causing untold damage to the environment and it’s one that exercises questionable ethics when it comes to the treatment of animals.
In the last half-decade, factory farming has spread all around the world and the current system for global food production is responsible for over 30% of greenhouse emissions. The reason is that it’s an industry that relies on fossil fuels for the machinery and vehicles it uses and that’s even before pesticides and synthetic fertilisers are considered.
One example of the lack of ethics in factory farming can be found in the way animals are kept in squalid conditions in the interests of increased food production. Starved of sunlight, freedom of movement and healthy feed, animals like battery chickens live very short, unpleasant lives - just so we can have access to cheap food.
Whilst free-range meat costs more, it does ensure that animals are treated humanely and that whilst they are alive, they are not made to needlessly suffer. Factory farming has little or no consideration for animal welfare beyond how it affects the bottom line.
Deforestation in Factory Farming
The problems caused by factory farming are far-reaching and not confined to the ethical treatment of livestock. The planet’s trees are known as ‘the lungs of the planet’, as they perform a vital role in oxygen production. However, in the US, more than 260 million acres of forest have disappeared to make way for crop fields - with every inch used to grow feed for livestock.
The same thing can be seen in Brazil, as 3 million acres of rainforest no longer exist because of land clearing for animal feed agriculture. Factory farming alone has progressed climate change significantly by releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and compounded the problem by taking away much of the planet’s mechanism that processes it.
Is Factory Farming Sustainable?
It would seem that the facts really do speak for themselves when it comes to the sustainability of factory farming. Until major changes are made to factory farming practices, animals will continue to suffer and climate change will continue to be exacerbated by the carbon emissions it creates. So great is the issue that it will likely require change at governmental level to make a real difference and for all our sakes, it needs to happen sooner rather than later.