The Justice Department recently fined Tyson Fresh Meats, the world’s largest beef and pork supplier, $2 million for pumping animal waste into the Missouri River. Tyson was in violation of a 2002 agreement to limit its discharges into the river. According to one news report, Tyson, which discharges about 5 million gallons of “treated wastewater” from a Nebraska beef processing facility into the river each day, caused high levels of toxicity to aquatic life in the river.
Gee, what a surprise! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that factory farms pollute our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined. According to the EPA, chicken, hog, and cattle excrement have polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states. Animals raised for food produce approximately 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population—87,000 pounds per second.
The waste is typically stored in massive cesspools a half mile wide and 20 feet deep. In 1995, a giant “lagoon” holding 8 acres of excrement burst, spilling 25 million gallons of putrefying hog urine and feces into the New River in North Carolina, killing more than 10 million fish; making the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster seem more like a glass of spilt soy milk.
A Scripps Howard synopsis of a Senate Agricultural Committee report on farm pollution issued this warning about animal waste: “[I]t’s untreated and unsanitary, bubbling with chemicals and diseased. … It goes onto the soil and into the water that many people will, ultimately, bathe in and wash their clothes with and drink. It is poisoning rivers and killing fish and making people sick. … Catastrophic cases of pollution, sickness, and death are occurring in areas where livestock operations are concentrated. … Every place where the animal factories have located, neighbors have complained of falling sick.”
A Duke University Medical Center study showed that people living downwind of pig farms are more likely to suffer from tension, depression, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headaches, shallow breathing, coughing, sleep disturbances, and loss of appetite.
And that’s just what happens to you if you don’t eat the meat—if you eat animal products, you may also develop heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers!
If you haven’t already signed up for PCRM’s Vegan Kickstart program to improve your health and lessen animal suffering, please do it know—before animal farms muck up our air and water so much that no one can survive.