Where once small family farms dotted the countryside of many countries around the world, changes in farming over the last 3 or 4 decades have seen those tranquil family farms replaced by the huge corporate factory farms that provide the meat for most of the population.
Factory farms are defined as farms that raise livestock in confinement at high density.
In reality, factory farms are less like farms and more like assembly line type of factories.
Hundreds and often thousands of animals are packed together in small places leaving them little room to turn around, lie down or even move.
Harm to the Animals
Factory farms are excessively harmful to the animals that are raised for meat, eggs and milk.
Chicken, turkeys, pigs, and cows all are shut into cages or large barns, where they rarely see the light of day.
In addition they suffer physically and mentally from such living conditions that are designed to be a breeding house of diseases.
These animals are fed chemically produced grain, feed subjected to constant antibiotics, and growth hormones to speed up the time it takes from birth to slaughter.
Breeding animals are forcibly bred to force them to produce more and more offspring as quickly as possible.
Not only do factory farms result in animals suffering from high rates of illness and disease despite being fed massive doses of antibiotics, these animals become aggressive and even depressed from the overcrowded conditions they are forced to live in.
Forced to live in their own waste and breathe in the fumes from this waste, many of these animals are sent to market sick and already close to death.
In the United States, the USDA allows these sick animals to be slaughtered and sold as meat for human consumption, because not doing so would cause an economic hardship for these huge factory farms.
European countries normally have stricter standards for these factory farms, however they still are not healthy environments.
Harm to Humans
While the way the animals are treated, and the harm they suffer in these factory farms is enough to make most feel sick at heart, the food produced from these factory farms and the way it is produced causes harm to people as well.
First of all, the use of pesticides on these factory farms guarantee that eating meat from the animals who were raised in these conditions, will result in the consumption of high levels of pesticides by humans.
Since the animals on these factory farms are fed grains that have also been grown using chemical pesticides and herbicides, the toxin level in some of this meat or milk could be at extremely high levels.
Pesticides have been linked to endocrine disruptions as well as incidents of cancer.
There is also concern that the constant use of antibiotics may well cause resistance to antibiotics for humans when they need them to fight certain infections.
In addition, there are many diseases that can be passed from animals to humans which makes the slaughtering and selling of meat from sick and diseased animals likely to cause illness in humans.
Meat recalls from meat produced on these factory farms, and the increase in salmonella and e-coli, all suggest that factory farms are literally making people sick.
The harm is even worse to people who live near these dangerous factory farms, as these people suffer from an increase of a variety of illnesses.
These health issues have included nasal irritation, diarrhea, chronic coughing, breathing difficulties, headaches, increased allergies and mood changes.
These constant illnesses destroy the quality of life for the people who live near these factory farms and in many cases moving may simply not be an option.
Harm to the Environment
Not only do factory farms harm animals and people, they also destroy the environment.
The huge amount of waste from keeping too many animals confined in a small space causes both water and air pollution.
The waste from these farms eventually begins making its way into both the ground and surface water, which results in polluting both drinking water, lakes and rivers.
This waste contributes to the growth of algae, and harms both the fish that live in these waters and the wildlife that drink from these lakes, rivers and streams.
Researchers found that there are over 800 different toxic gases or volatile organic compounds in the air emitted from these factory farms.
The smell from these places can create instant headaches and even nausea.
In addition, because that the animals on these factory farms are almost completely grain fed, natural resources are cleared to make more room to grow grain to feed these animals.
Since the grain that is grown for feeding the animals on factory farms is grown with pesticides and herbicides, this only increases the amount of toxins that are being poured into the environment.
While the owners and producers that run these factory farms work hard to convince the public that the food these farms produce is healthy, the reality is, that the meat and meat products produced from the animals raised in this manner, may be far more harmful that most people know or would ever guess.