Effects of factory farms in the environment and health



Factory farming is an industrial operation that rears a large number of animals mainly for food. These animals are reared in filthy cages and conditions that are not friendly, and once they reach the required size, they are slaughtered and sold for food (McMichael 77). Today, factory farming has been taken up by major industries that aim at raising animals and birds such as chicken mainly for meat purposes. Factory farming dominates the industry of food production in the United States, and it harbors an abusive society whose aim is to work towards the maximization of profits associated with agribusiness without caring about the adverse effects they pose to the environment and the health. Factory farming has led to land abuse, natural resources and animals at the expense of food that is cheap and unhealthy to people. Factory farming affects the environment and health in many ways.


Factory farming leads to the pollution of air. Most of the emissions of methane gas that are emitted to the environment are released by the factory farms (Capper, Cady and Bauman 2162). The potential of global warming of methane is 20 times higher than carbon dioxide by 20 times. Global warming is a serious issue as far as the conservation of the environment is concerned. For the environment to be conserved and sustained, the emissions must be kept below 2 percent. Factory farming contributes to the releasing of compounds that are harmful such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide which lead to health effects that are adverse to the environment and the humans.

Factory farming leads to deforestation of the highest levels. Clearing of large chunks of forests has been done to raise food that is used to feed the livestock that is reared in the factory farms (Horrigan, Lawrence and Walker 76). The fact that the number of these animals that are reared is high has also translated to significant land being aside to rear food that can sustain the animals. For instance, more than 260 million acres that comprised forests in the United States have been cleared. Deforestation has led to the reduction of the levels of rain and has contributed to the raising of global warming levels by almost 50 percent through the release of carbon to the environment.

Factory farming has led to the pollution of water. This kind of agriculture uses up to 70 percent of water that is fresh in the world. All the problems that are associated with the quality of water in America are caused by factory farming (Kennedy 61). Water that has been polluted by agricultural run-off destroys the entire ecosystem and poses adverse health effects to both the animals and the humans. The factory farms have large cesspools that are used to store the wastes of the animals. These wastes of the animals leak into the waterways that are adjacent to them thus exposing microbes that are toxic, nitrates and bacteria that resist drugs. Once these by-products get into the waterways, they lead to the creation of blooms of algae that are toxic and which result in death of animals in water bodies such as fish. The presence of nitrates in water meant for drinking is harmful to the health of the humans in that it can lead to abortions and syndrome of blue baby. Agricultural pollution of water leads to release of bacteria into drinking water that causes an outbreak of diseases in America.

The conditions that the animals are exposed to in the factory farms are bad in that diseases can infect these animals easily and since they are crowded, diseases can be spread easily to other animals. The producers of these animals, therefore, use antibiotics more often to prevent these diseases and reduce their spread. The producers also use a range of antibiotics to make the animals grow and mature faster so that they can sell them since all they are concerned of is making huge profits within a short period. Most of these antibiotics are not digested and therefore end up in manure and urine. These antibiotics through these wastes contaminate the waterways including crops, and they are easily ingested by humans, which brings about serious adverse health effects to the humans. Factory farming also poses a public health impact. The consumption of meat and dairy products in high levels causes nutrition problems to the humans such as cardiovascular and obesity. Rearing of animals in large numbers promotes arising from infectious diseases that can easily spread to the people such as avian flu.

Alternative solutions

The fact that factory farming is harmful to the environment requires solutions that can help to either remove the harm completely or significantly reduce it. Several solutions can be implemented to ensure the control happens. Most times there are lots of antibiotics which are unnecessary that are administered to the animals and which pose a significant danger to the animals and the health of the humans. These drugs are also given to the animals through their feeds and the water that they drink (MacDonald & McBride 53). The first alternative solution, therefore, is to ban the use of unnecessary drugs on animals. This habit of the producers of using drugs to hasten the growth rate should be prohibited so that the animals can be treated specifically for their diseases as diagnosed by the veterinarians.

The second alternative is to prohibit genetically modified feeds. The imports of the feeds that are genetically modified should be prohibited (McMichael 87). The farmers should also be compelled to produce most of the feeds that are given to the animals in their farms in natural ways. Strict rules of procurement of the animal feed should be enforced to that effect so that the imbalances of nutrients can be eliminated internationally and to reduce the powers of multinational corporations of agriculture such as Monsanto. This will ensure that feeds that are modified genetically are not imported and thereby not used to feed the animals.

The third alternative solution is about the wastes and the manures produced by the animals. Measures should be put in place so that the manure and the wastes that are released from the farming factories are not released to the waterways to avoid the adverse effects to the environment (Stathopoulos 88). These wastes should not be allowed to accumulate to levels where they can leak. The manure and the wastes should be used for farming purposes. There is need to create awareness to the public on the effects of consuming these animals that are reared through industrial agriculture. This awareness will reduce the consumption of the meat from these farming factories, and this will imply that the adverse effects caused by these animals to the humans are minimized. People should be encouraged to prefer products that are organic so that small-scale farmers who do not use petroleum fertilizers are encouraged. The public should also be made aware of how the factory farms affect the environment and their health so that the practice can be discouraged.

Proposed or Chosen Solution

The harm that factory farming poses to the environment and the health of the humans can be tamed effectively through enforcing relevant laws that discourage factory farming. These laws should be legislated and enforced fully (Pluhar 460). These rules will be helpful in restricting the clearing of forests, and they will also ensure that the levels of emissions that are released to the environment are checked such that they are at minimal levels. The laws will also ensure that the producers of animals from factory farming adhere to the regulations that ensure that animals that are reared are clean and not harmful. For instance, the use of drugs for faster growth of the animals will be checked by making sure that these factories are monitored carefully to ensure that they abide by measures that do not cause harm to the environment and the health of humans. On top of this, the administration of Food and Drugs should ensure that antibiotics that are non-therapeutic are used by banning those that are therapeutic.

Summary and Rebuttal of Opposing Views

Various arguments have been brought forward by various people who support factory farming. Some argue that the animals do not have rights and so they do not possess the capability of making moral claims (MacDonald & McBride 62). Therefore, that is why people inflict their rights by using drugs even when it is not necessary for their gains, for example, injecting them with drugs to make them grow faster so that they can be sold. Will Cohen claims that animals are not like humans and so they have no rights. He further says that animals do not have senses and so they cannot react to a specific feeling, and it is therefore appropriate to administer any drugs to them.

Another counter argument for factory farming is about the laws that were put in place to prevent the abuse of animals. The laws include friendly methods of slaughtering livestock, for instance the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act (HMSLA) (Pluhar 464). This act was formulated so that the animals would be treated well and humanely. Note that if the animals are treated well, then it will guarantee that factory farming is practiced safely and that will imply that its adverse effects will be mitigated. However, this Act did not cover all the animals. It only covered cattle, horses, sheep, mules and sheep leaving out birds such as chickens, turkeys among others. This implies that the birds are not protected by any law and so many developers of factory farming use this to their advantage by practicing industrial agriculture of the birds.


My solution of adequate, relevant legislation to govern the practice of factory farming is the most efficient one. Laws will be able to dictate how all aspects relating to the rearing of animals are followed (Capper, Cady and Bauman 2165). Hefty penalties should be put in place for all those who violate the law. For instance, the laws will ensure that all the emissions that are released to the environment are kept at low levels. The laws will also ensure that animals are reared in conditions that are friendly and that they are not given drugs to speed up their growth. The laws will also ensure that animals are subjected to drugs that are only administered to them when they only need them. The conditions at which the farming factories are favorable, and this can be done through time to time checks to ensure that they adhere to all the environmental regulations. The meat from the farming factories should be scrutinized, and if any harmful substances are found in them, the particular farm factory should be fined heavily or be slapped with heavy penalties. Through this, the farming factories will be forced to adhere to safe measures, and it will be easier to control them.


Factory farming is a practice that is harmful to the environment and the health of the humans. It leads to the pollution of air and water. It also causes deforestation in order to grow food for the animals. It also has severe effects on the health of humans. The animals in the factory farms are injected with many additional drugs such as those that fasten their growth rate. These drugs are harmful to the health of humans. They remain in the animals, and when the animals are slaughtered for meat, humans consume the toxic substances that cause diseases to them. Factory farming produces a lot of food for human beings especially chicken and also for animals in terms of the refuse from the chicken that can be used to feed cattle. The refuse from factory farming can also be used as manure for agriculture. However, the fact that factory farming presents a lot of harm to the environment shows that it should be highly regulated because of its dire consequences to the environment and health of human beings and animals. Therefore, factory farming has adverse effects, and it should be discouraged at all costs.

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  2. Horrigan, Leo, Robert S. Lawrence, and Polly Walker. “How sustainable agriculture can address the environmental and human health harms of industrial agriculture.” Environmental health perspectives 110.5 (2002): 445.
  3. Kennedy, Robert Francis. Crimes against nature. HarperCollins, 2009.
  4. Ilea, Ramona Cristina. “Intensive livestock farming: Global trends, increased environmental concerns, and ethical solutions.” Journal of agricultural and environmental ethics 22.2 (2009): 153-167.
  5. MacDonald, James M., and William D. McBride. “The transformation of US livestock agriculture scale, efficiency, and risks.” (2009).
  6. McMichael, Philip. “Feeding the world: agriculture, development and ecology.” Socialist register 43.43 (2009).
  7. Pluhar, Evelyn B. “Meat and morality: Alternatives to factory farming.” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 23.5 (2010): 455-468.
  8. Stathopoulos, Anastasia S. “You Are What Your Food Eats: How Regulation of Factory Farm Conditions Could Improve Human Health and Animal Welfare Alike.” NYUJ Legis. & Pub. Pol’y 13 (2010): 407.
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