There are several reasons why factory farms are criticized. First they interrupt natural nutrient flows. For example cows are unable to graze in the field where they could eat the grass and their wastes products became nutrients for further growth in the fields. In Factory Farms cows are grown in unnatural conditions and are often fed corn which they are not genetically adapted to. These poor conditions caused by massive amounts of waste close quarters as well as poor diets causes E coli breakouts. In addition, their food sources are not grow on site and therefore more transportation is involved using fossil fuels. This causes even more environmental damage. Additionally, because the food isn’t grown on site, the nutrient flows are disrupted– nutrients are being taken from one location and then deposited in another. This disruption cause depletion in one area and then waste accumulation in another. The accumulation leads to nutrient runoff which causes eutrophication and dead zones in water bodies. Another criticism is that these conditions are not humane to animals. Chickens for example are sometimes kept in the dark their entire lives and pumped full of hormones and antibiotics to the point where they can’t even support their own weight to stand up.
Factory farming has accelerated and basically altered the natural process of agriculture and farming. Instead of a farm being owned by a family, it is now owned by a large corporation. Instead of a farmer being the owner of his farm, and by definition, a business man, he is actually a contracted employee for the corporate machine. The arguement supporting factory farming is that this process provides the demanding American population with a continuous and inexpensive meat supply. The truth is that this efficiency is in fact hurting the environment. In 2005, the Sierra Club reported that factory farms produce 2.7 trillion pounds of waste each year, and this waste ends up in our drinking water. Traditionally, farmers used to recycle animal waste by using it for fertilizer. Unfortunately, there’s no time for that in factory farms.
Both answers above are correct and comprehensive, I would just add that although factory farming was introduced and promoted to lower the cost to the American public – the real cost to our health and environment has been devastating. This includes exposure to chemicals such as pesticides, antibiotics, hormones. Poluted waterways and run-off into our streams, lakes and oceans. Mad cow disease from unhealthy feeding practices (even here in the US). Obesity in part due to the incredible amount of high fructose corn syrup that is sold to manufacturers for just about every processed food there is. Animals such as cows that eat corn which they are not able to digest properly as they should be grazing on grass. Loss of revenue for local and small business farmers and butchers. Increased cost due both financially and energy wise due to having to ship, truck and otherwise transport these farm products to every part of the country and beyond.
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