Since the rise of modern agriculture and huge monoculture farms there has been a decline in soil fertility, an increase in fossil fuel emissions and heavy pollution from the overuse of pesticides and chemically based fertilizers. The rise of genetically modified crops from companies like Monsanto has certainly helped spread this unsustainable practice, however new evidence from independent studies suggest that genetically modified crops can cause severe negative health problems. Three of Monsanto’s most lucrative crops have been shown to cause liver and kidney damage in mammals as well as cause irregularities to the heart. So not only are these crops killing the land, but they’re killing us too!
There are many problems associated with GMO’s as well as benefits, but if I were to specifically target one food item that is all around the worst for human health and for the environment it would be beef. The actual meat from a cow in its natural form is not a problem. It is the way in which industrial agriculture has shaped the beef industry that is helping to contribute to dead zones in the ocean and spurring on heart disease particularly in the United States. Cows are supposed to graze and eat grasses; it is their nature. They actually have a highly adapted digestive system that allows them to do this successfully. Now most cows raised for food eat corn, a heavily subsidized monoculture contributing to the majority of agricultural pollution. This is because corn is actually cheaper than grass for farmers because of government subsidies adding up to more than 4.6 billion dollars a year. Cows aren’t meant to eat corn, thus they have to be pumped with antibiotics to ward off infection. Along with the antibiotics they are given hormones to speed up their fattening process. This is what leads to marbleizing in the meat. This is a fancy way of saying fatter meat. Beef is also associated with a lot of very fatty foods such as cheeseburgers and Hamburger Helper. This helps contribute to main killer in the United States, heat disease. The waste created by these giant cattle ranches also pollutes water ways and eventually makes its way to the ocean causing huge algal blooms creating dead zones.
I think we can say that as a genre, fast food is the worst. Clearly terrible for your health, the food also frequently contains many chemicals and preservatives and can be genetically modified. The practices that go along with fast food (production, shipping, distribution) are also terrible for the environment pretty much across the board.
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