PEOPLE & PLANET
Food production impacts on humans & our environment
Factory farming is viewed by some people as the cheap, efficient solution to feeding our world. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In many countries, people are being driven from their land to make room to grow feed for farm animals. For every 100 food calories of edible crops fed to livestock, we get back just 30 calories in the form of meat and dairy; a 70% loss. In short, people are being forced to compete with farm animals for food…
Factory farming is economically and environmentally unsustainable. Factory farming breaks our food systems, taking grain and other precious resources from those that need it most. Modern farming methods are a major cause of climate change and have degraded much of the world’s soils, and unless we work very hard to reverse this damage, it will be impossible to feed the growing population healthily.
Factory Farming Threatens Human Health
LOW QUALITY FOOD
Factory farming produces lower quality and less healthy food, with lower levels of key nutrients and higher levels of fat, compared to free-range and especially organic food.
Modern farming methods have degraded 25-40% of soils worldwide, which depletes the nutritional value of any plants grown on it, and in turn the animals that feed from those plants.
RISK OF DISEASE
Forcing animals to live in close proximity to one another encourages the spread of harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella and TB. There is also growing concern that heavy meat consumption can increase the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancers developing in people.
CHEMICALS & GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD
The chemicals used to grow animal feed – pesticides, herbicides and fungicides – can cause human health problems, particularly in developing countries where safety standards are often lower.
Nearly all the non-organic livestock raised in the UK are produced with GM feed, and the GM industry’s own research data suggests GM feed could be harmful to human health.
Without antibiotics, factory farmed animals regularly fall sick due to stress and overcrowding. On non-organic farms these drugs are often fed to the animals whether they are infected or not. There is international concern that this rampant use of antibiotics in farm animals is driving the development of drug-resistant bacteria, in turn reducing human being’s ability to recover from certain food-borne illnesses and diseases.
Factory Farming is Adding to the Global Hunger Crisis
WORLD POVERTY & HUNGER
Farm animals are often given food that people could eat, raising food prices and fuelling the global hunger crisis. 90% of the world’s soya is grown as feed for animals to produce meat, milk and eggs. This land could be better used to grow plants for people to eat directly.
Instead of feeding most of the world’s cereals and grain to animals, we could rear animals on pasture converting things people can’t eat – grass and crop residues – into things that we can eat; meat, mill and eggs. Embracing regenerative, land-based ways of keeping farm animals would not only provide scope for higher animal welfare (and be better for wildlife and for the natural environment), but it could also go a long way to feeding the world. If we cut by half the amount of cereals and meat fed to farm animals, it would free up enough food for an extra 2 billion people.
In many countries, land is grabbed to grow animal-feed crops including soya, driving people from their homes and land, and reducing people’s access to vital food sources.
IMPACT OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROP FOR FARMERS
Nearly all commercially released GM crops are produced by three chemical companies. GM crops create herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds’, trapping farmers in an increasingly expensive arms race where the only winners are the chemical companies. The cost to farmers goes beyond using increasing amounts of dangerous pesticides; the GM industry also prevents farmers from saving seeds, instead obligating them to purchase seeds from the company.
GM crops cannot be contained once they’re released, which can be financially disastrous for non-GM (and organic) farmers whose crops become contaminated.
Factory Farming is Destroying Our Planet
In Dorset and the UK, the growth of intensive farming with larger fields has caused a loss of hedgerows and permanent grassland, which is thus causing a decline in our wildlife including bees and butterflies, on whom our ecosystems rely.
Worldwide, factory farming uses up vast quantities of precious resources, and is driving deforestation, and damaging natural habitats and diverse ecosystems. Land is being destroyed to make room to farm cattle, or to grow soya or palm kernel primarily to feed farmed animals.
Industrial fish farms are polluting our inland waterways and estuaries (and harming our wild fish such as salmon).
Livestock farming is a major cause of climate change. 75 billion farm animals are reared for food worldwide every year, two-thirds of them on factory farms, with numbers growing all the time. Together, they emit almost a sixth of all global greenhouse gas emissions; that’s more than all the world’s planes, trains and cars put together.
CHEMICALS & GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS
The use of pesticides in the UK and worldwide is causing a decline in our wildlife, including bees and butterflies, on whom our ecosystems rely.
The use of the the chemical glyphosate has skyrocketed since the introduction of glyphosate-resistant GM crops, and it is becoming the most used weed-killer in the world.
Plastic Pollution From Our Food Packaging
Millions of tonnes of plastic waste, mostly from our food packaging, isn’t just polluting our waters and endangering marine life, it’s also entering the human food chain – damaging our own health.
“We need to create a fairer and more sustainable food system – for people, animals and our planet – and it starts here and now, with you.”
- Choose organic – to support more farming that respects nature, with more environmentally sustainable management of the land. Soil Association Organic food is also GM free, avoids antibiotics, uses fewer pesticides, and has no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers.
- Eat a lot less meat or try going meat-free or vegan – to reduce the unsustainable demand for quickly reared cheap food that gives rise to intensive factory farming. If we ate less meat and dairy it could mean more grain to go round, and help relieve global poverty.
- Choose local & seasonal – it’s tastier, fresher and requires less energy to produce and transport. Make sure its free-range and organic to support higher-welfare farms too.
- Reduce food waste – cook only what you need, use up any leftovers, then compost the rest.
- Grow your own fruit & vegetables – even if just in a window box, or join a local garden share scheme!
- Plant bee-friendly flowers – to help our declining bee species on whom our ecosystems rely.
- Do not use slug pellets, weedkiller or insecticides – they can kill birds, hedgehogs and bees.
- Avoid using plastic – plastic waste isn’t just polluting our waters and endangering marine life, it’s also entering the human food chain – damaging our health.
NEW! FREE Compassionate Food Guide
Compassionate Dorset have created a FREE handy wallet sized Compassionate Food Guide collaborating with Compassion in World Farming – to help you understand what your food labels mean when you shop for meat or dairy. It is packed with animal facts plus tips to help you eat less, but higher welfare meat and dairy, through to trying more vegan options – to help create a kinder and more sustainable food system.
If you would like to request some printed guides to distribute at a local shop, cafe or event, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org