Essay: Ethical Concerns related to Factory Farming

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[. . .] Factory farming also poses a danger to the environment (Lymbery & Oakeshott, 2015). Holding large populations of livestock in a small space contributes to air, water, and land pollution, hence straining natural resources. For instance, farm waste may find its way to water bodies, consequently threatening the lives of communities dependent on the water. Air and water pollution are particularly significant concerns as they add to health risks on the part of humans. Indeed, communities living near factory firms report a considerable prevalence of illnesses associated (directly or indirectly) with factory farming. Health risks may further emanate from the use of antibiotics and other chemicals used in animal rearing. This is an especially critical risk for farm workers. Exposure to farm chemicals may increase farm workers’ risk for respiratory and skin illnesses. Moreover, since there is usually no proper maintenance in animal farms, farm workers are exposed to dangerous pathogens such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli, which may be easily transmitted from meat and other farm products to humans, as well as from person to person. Overdependence on antibiotics in animal rearing may also result in drug resistant bacteria, further endangering human and animal health (Lymbery & Oakeshott, 2015).

The widespread prevalence of torturous practices in animal farms points to the little regard the law gives to animal welfare. Indeed, there are no comprehensive federal laws to protect the welfare of farm animals (ASPCA, 2017). The only two laws available – the Twenty Eight Hour law and the Humane Methods of Livestock Act – provide guidelines only for transport and slaughter. More importantly, the two laws exempt all poultry animals, which account for more than 90% of the land animals used for food (ASPCA, 2017). With the striking inadequacy of federal laws, one would expect the existence of wide-ranging state laws for safeguarding the welfare of animals reared in industrial farms. This is, however, not the case. Though most states have animal welfare laws, the laws expressly exclude farm animals. Additionally, the laws exempt most farm practices from anti-cruelty provisions. This makes it extremely difficult to protect animals kept in industrial farms.

With a burgeoning human population, however, factory farming may be viewed as a necessary evil. Factory farming is without a doubt invaluable for meeting food demand (Lymbery & Oakeshott, 2015). Without factory farming, America would probably not have adequate supply of beef, bacon, eggs, and dairy products. More importantly, without large-scale, industrial farming, animal rearing would be significantly costlier, making animal food products more expensive for the end consumer. Do these benefits really surpass the demerits or social costs created? It is quite likely that they do not.

On the whole, factory farming debatably creates more harm than good to the society. The suffering imposed on farm animals, coupled with the devastating consequences on the environment and humans, far much outweighs the benefits to the society. Though factory farming has enhanced profitability and efficiency in animal farming, it has created critical risks not only for animals, but also humans, communities, and the environment. The food supply gains made do not offset the burden and costs created in the long-term – e.g. depletion of natural resources, more health risks, increased pollution, and so on. Essentially, factory farming does not maximise utility for the society, hence unethical or wrong. Increased food demand is undoubtedly a problem that humanity faces in the 21st century, but the demand can be met using more humane and environmentally-friendly practices – practices that benefit not only farmers, but also animals, humans, communities, and the environment.

References

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). (2017). Farm animal welfare. Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/farm-animal-welfare

Lymbery, P., & Oakeshott, I. (2015). Farmageddon:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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