According to a newly published article on Alternet.org and the animal protection organization Free from Harm, factory farms in the US generate more waste from animals than is made by all humans in the same country. Even more shocking is the statement that hog manure has 10 to 100 times the number of pathogens (disease-causing organisms) than human waste, and yet is not treated to kill them. Animal waste doesn’t only contain pathogens, it also can have heavy metals, antiobiotics, ammonia, nitrates and other chemicals.
The National Resources Defense Council says contamination of water supplies for people has taken place due to agricultural waste spills and runoff. For example, 100 people died in 1993 and about 400,000 were made sick due to Cryptosporidium contamination of Milwaukee’s drinking water, an event believed to be in part caused by manure from dairy cows. Hydrogen sulfide gas is emitted from large hog farms and it can cause brain damage and death in humans. In 1998 nineteen people died from breathing the gas from manure pits. In 1995, 25 million gallons of manure-filled water spilled into a North Carolina river and killed about 10 million fish. These are just several of many animal waste contaminations that have taken place due to the existence of factory farms. The NRDC also says there are about 40 diseases that can be transmitted from farm animal manure to humans.
Making matters worse, however, is the impact of domestic livestock on climate change. A UN report stated its contribution is greater than that of all transportation combined. In addition, a large amount of CO2 is released to make fertilizer which is used to grow plants that are fed to factory farm animals. Forty million tons of CO2 is emitted each year to make the fertilizer just to grow plants to feed livestock. Although this is a large number, it is very small compared to the amount of methane produced by factory farms, and methane has twenty times the capacity for trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2.
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