How are climate and health crises driven by factory farms?
Factory-farmed meat production in the EU is on the rise, and is putting the climate and human health at risk according to a new report released today from Food & Water Action Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe.
A rise in industrial meat production in the European Union has been accompanied by a rapid decline in the number of small farms. This has led to a dangerous rise of "factory farms", characterised by large numbers of animals confined in crowded spaces.
The COVID-19 crisis has proved the fragility and inhumanity of the system which makes cheap meat possible, and how much it depends on unethical and unfair conditions for workers. We need urgent action from EU and national policy makers to change this.Stanka Becheva, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe
The report reveals that:
- Unsafe working conditions on factory farms and slaughterhouses put workers in danger and increase the spread of diseases including COVID-19;
- Global production of soybeans for animal feed, and the resulting deforestation, are exacerbating the climate crisis, constituting around 7% of all greenhouse gas emissions originating from human activity;
- The European meat sector is dominated by a few large corporations who are increasing in size through mergers and acquisitions. Vertical integration threatens the existence of small-scale farmers, drops the prices for producers and leaves all the profits with agribusiness;
- The routine dosing of antibiotics to factory farmed animals is increasing the risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria ending up in meat;
- Manure from livestock farming severely contributes to air pollution (namely via ammonia emissions) and water pollution (via nitrate outputs) - a serious health risk for people living near factory farms.