April 22 is Earth Day, a time to reflect on our environmental sins. Earth Day traditionally conjures up ideas of saving rain forests, global warming, and saving endangered species. But what about factory farming and livestock pollution? Factory farms - which incarcerate tens of thousands of animals in a single facility - create 130 times more waste than humans, and now surpass factories as the premiere polluters of America's waterways.
The magnitude of the livestock industry is staggering. Each year the U.S. produces 7 BILLION chickens, 85 million pigs, 112 million cattle, nine million sheep and 300 million turkeys. The U.S. generates 1.4 BILLION TONS of animal manure every year. Cattle manure tops the list at 1.2 BILLION TONS. Where, you may ask, does this monstrous landslide of manure go? Ideally, it should be converted into fertilizer, but most of it is left untreated to poison streams, rivers, lakes and other waterways.
No vision of hell is complete without a corporate hog farm. Tens of thousands of gnawing, squealing pigs are crammed inside fetid, windowless warehouses where huge fans ceaselessly churn twenty-four hours a day. As "National Hog Farmer" magazine says, "overcrowding pays." Over 80 percent of pigs raised in the U.S. are intensively confined to the point where they can't even turn around without stepping over other animals. Satan himself could not have devised a more diabolically cruel place except for the slaughterhouses where these helpless creatures will be shackled, hoisted and killed. These places are insanely cruel and should be outlawed by any society claiming to be civilized.
Imagine that you or someone you cared about became ill and couldn't walk. Then, instead of being taken to a doctor or emergency room, you were taken to a slaughterhouse and had your throat cut.
John Robbins wrote in "Diet for a New America": "Before they reach their end, the pigs get a shower, a real one. Water sprays from every angle to wash the farm off them. Then they begin to feel crowded. The pen narrows like a funnel; the drivers urge the pigs forward, until one at a time they climb unto a moving ramp . . . Now they scream, never having been on such a ramp, smelling the smells they smell. I do not want to overdramatize because you have read all this before. But it was a frightening experience, seeing their fear, seeing so many of them go by. It had to remind me of things no one wants to be reminded of any more, all mobs, all death marches, all mass murders and extinctions."
Almost as soon as we began to visit Lancaster stockyards, we would come across animals lying dead or injured in the alleyways or the holding pens. Those who were dead on arrival or who died soon after were picked up and moved to what was unsentimentally called the "dead pile."
The carcasses on the dead pile would stay there until the renderer came around. To the side of the pile near one side of the wall, we saw a sheep lying on her side. As we approached, something remarkable happened: the sheep lifted up her head and looked at us. I was stunned. Lori and I looked at each other in horror. Without exchanging a word we both knew that we couldn't let the animal stay where she was. Our first, overpowering thought was that somehow we had to get this sheep out of there.
We found a vet who came out to the van and started palpating the sheep's body. The sheep, who was about six months old, barely more than a lamb, started showing signs of life. - by Gene Baur from the book "Farm Sanctuary"
Huge industrial operations, headed by poultry tycoons such as Don Tyson and Frank Perdue, and hog czar Wendal Murphy, are causing an environmental blitzkreig. Their collosal factory farms are poisoning our groundwater and waterways with nitrogen and phosphorous. In North Carolina, 420,000 million tons of hog manure flooded a creek in July, 1999. California alone, has 1,600 dairies generating more waste than the entire human population of Texas. In the Lone Star State, 2 million cattle are kept in feedlots surrounding Amarillo, and the slaughterhouse kills a bovine every thirteen seconds.
A consortium of meat moguls led by Smithfield Foods of West Virginia have constructed a behemoth factory hog farm in northwest Utah,designed to produce 2.4 million hogs each year, with a waste output exceeding that of Los Angeles! Wastes generated, including nitrogen and phosphorous, are acutely toxic to fish and at lower levels phosphorous and nitrogen cause excessive algae growth. Algae overgrowth depletes oxygen, polluting rivers so badly they barely support fish or any aquatic life.
In the Colorado town where I once lived there was a "turkey plant" which, according to the local newspaper, used 850,000 gallons of water a day - 5,304,000 gallons a year. This windowless, depressing factory of death produced 3,017 tons of nitrogen a year and 1,000 tons of phosphorous. The plant killed 17,000 turkeys a day - 5,304,000 per year.
In America, 300 million turkeys are butchered in one year. The American Society of Agricultural Engineers estimates that, nationally, turkeys generate 33 BILLION pounds of waste annually. Included in this deluge of dung is 488 million tons of nitrogen and 186 million tons of phosphorous.
A report by the U.S. Department of Commerce states that 1/3 of all raw materials and half this country's water are guzzled by the livestock and factory farm industries. According to Department of Agriculture statistics, one acre of land can grow 20,000 pounds of potatoes. That same acre of land, if used to grow cattle feed, can produce less than 165 pounds of beef. John Robbins wrote in his book "Diet for a New America" that to produce a single pound of meat takes an average of 2,500 gallons of water - as much as a typical family uses for all its combined household purposes in a month.
Monumental animal suffering and environmental pollution are created for the almighty hamburger, hot dog, chicken wing, and of course, dollar. I believe that factory farms and the livestock industry cannot survive indefinitely by bleeding the ecosystems that support them. Our overburdened, polluted planet will eventually be depleated of quality grazing land and/or the price of meat will become prohibitive to all but the wealthy.
The evolution of factory farming is the natural consequence of our society's materialistic and objectifying attitude toward nature. We are riding high on the hog of arrogant consumption - with little regard for future generations. Americans are caught in a maddening, high-speed treadmill of overconsumption and self- destruction. In a society enamored with efficiency, productivity and profits, abysmal animal cruelty and environmental concerns are swept aside by a tidal wave of avarice, gluttony and apathy.
Factory farming is a rich man's luxury. It springs more from greed than necessity.
Contrary to the claims of animal scientists and agribusiness technocrats, factory farming cannot and will not feed the starving masses. Corporate animal factories consume vast amounts of resources and grains, and these grains could be fed directly to hungry people. Our hungry planet of over 6 billion people cannot be sustained by an inefficient, wasteful meat-based agriculture.
That insolent icon of American success - or should I say decadence - the hamburger, is fast becoming a symbol of global destruction and environmental degradation. Ancient, noble and majestic rainforests are being plundered, gutted and charred to create yet more grazing land. Vast areas of the Amazon rain forest resemble Iraqi towns after a U.S. invasion. About FIFTY PERCENT of the earth's land surface is being used to graze livestock. Millions of bovines are causing world-wide deforestation and desertification merely to satisfy overfed Americans and Europeans with cheeseburgers and steaks.
In the United states alone, ranchers can legally access 260 million acres of public lands, most of which have been ruined by over 120 years of grazing. Ranching has the distasteful distinction of ruining more wildlife habitat and native vegetation than any other land use. It seems that wherever animals are abused - whether it be for sport or profit - nature is abused.
Here's a quote from the book "Waste of the West," written by Lynn Jacobs: "The ranching establishment's assault on the environment, therefore, includes campaigns against a huge number and variety of animals. Most of the score or so native large mammal species in the West have been decimated by ranching, both intentionally through slaughtering efforts and indirectly through the harmful effects of livestock grazing and ranching developments. Indeed, most larger and a great many smaller animal species are in some way assailed as enemies. The mass carnage carried outfor the sake of privately owned livestock continues today throughout the grazed 70% of the West, including public lands . . ."
Ranchers live in a world of self-imposed violence against animals. American ranchers continually shoot, trap, poison and persecute the following wild animals: coyotes, prairie dogs, mountain lions, bobcats, golden eagles, bighorn sheep, bison, wild horses, burros, jackrabbits and even ravens. Most are killed simply for sport. And don't forget roping, dragging, branding and castrating helpless calves. It appears that animal cruelty is a preferred lifestyle for some people.
We've all heard the tired stories about coyotes killing livestock and prairie dogs invading ranches and how they must be "controlled." Every animal killer has used similar, worn-out rationales, resulting in untold misery for countless animals.
Ranchers and hunters underestimate the intelligence of people who are not animal killers. We know that ranchers and hunters kill animals for fun, and they have disdain for animals they consider "vermin" which include prairie dogs, and they also hate "varmints" which include coyotes. I have also read that hunters and ranchers can and will shoot stray dogs and cats, which contradicts any fanciful notion of hunters respecting animals.
Many people, including myself, would sell the family ranch instead of killing innocent animals who have as much right to live as I do. Or, better yet, we'd choose not to live on a ranch in the first place. Perhaps we'd build a fence, but we definitely would NOT shoot animals!
Animal cruelty exists for two main reasons: It is profitable or it is considered fun. Huge sums of money are being made from exploiting livestock, research animals, and wild animals. It is no great surprise to learn that humans can be viciously sadistic toward not only animals but people as well. Where this aggression originates in the homo sapien psyche is anyone's guess, but it is a fact of life. It is also a fact of life that humans can show kindness toward animals, and that is a much loftier goal. Anyone, even a child, or a fool can abuse a weaker, more powerless being.
Sigmund Freud believed that humans get their violent tendencies from the unconscious mind. In this view there is a dark realm inside everyone, what Carl Jung called the shadow. In this realm lie atavistic impulses of rage and fear.
Human beings can live very well on a vegetarian or vegan diet. It is public demand - not necessity - for meat, dairy and eggs that allows these atrocities against animals to continue. The smallest dietary self-sacrifice is too much for most Americans. For that, we can thank the American lifestyle of overconsumption and the ceaseless garbage fare advertised on television. The self-imposed standard American diet is a slow killer and crippler. Millions of people suffer needlessly from serious, degenerative diseases brought on by indulging in meat, dairy, fried eggs and other nonessential foods.
Eating liberally of meat and dairy products has consequences. The exorbitant cost of health care in America is largely related to the high-fat, artery-clogging, cancer-causing diet enjoyed by the masses. Many studies have shown that vegetarians have much less (50% less) cancer than nonvegetarians. They also have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. In his book "Eat to Live," Joel Fuhrman explains: "Remember, long-term vegans almost never get heart attacks." To quote a respected authority, William Castelli, M.D., director of the famed Framingham Heart Study: "We tend to scoff at vegetarians, but they're doing much better than we are. Vegans have cholesterol levels so low, they almost never get heart attacks."
Despotic agribusiness and their government cohorts have rationalized and denied for too long the animal welfare, consumer health, and environmental damage done in the name of profit. It is truly amazing how remorseless corporations have become. There is an indefatigable madness and technocratic insolence - a nose-thumbing at nature and animals - that factory farming displays. It is born out of avarice and gluttony far more than necessity: It is a remorseless blight on the land and I want nothing to do with it.
I could write endlessly about the cruelty and depravity of homo sapiens, and I have tried hard not to belabor the issue, as tempting as it may be. Each individual plays his or her role in the world, and every one of our thoughts, actions, and reactions affect our environment. Virtually all animal exploitation is unnecessary. Not a single factory farm, slaughterhouse, hunting season, rodeo, puppy mill, or fur coat do we need.
More and more I read about carnivores who want to "feel good" about where their meat comes from. The usual writer's cliché is that people who slaughter animals "know where their meat comes from," as if slaughtering your own meat is some lofty virtue.
The vegan ideology has huge merit: it does not require the horrible cruelty of slaughtering animals, or destroying rainforests to raise yet more cattle, or dumping vast amounts of toxic waste into the water supply.
In my opinion, people who raise and slaughter animals for food have a huge conscience deficit. No matter how humanely an animal is raised, they will not be painlessly euthanized. These sentient beings will be killed using a cost - effective method.
And pork is not a health food. You can eat fruits and veggies all day long and only get healthier, but try eating pork all day long and see what happens. People have reversed heart disease and cancer using strict vegan diets. Try doing that with pork. Newspapers and magazine writers want to feel good about where their meat comes from, when they should feel good about not supporting the meat industry.
Dr. Steven Best said it best: "The problem is the human species itself, which but for rare exceptions is destructive, and imperialistic. Universally, humans have vested interests in exploiting animals and think they have a God-given right to do so. To change these attitudes is to change the very nerve center of human consciousness. That is our task – no more and no less."
A philosopher once remarked that human history is a tale of barbarism. Isaac Asimov wrote: "To insult someone we call him 'bestial.' For deliberate cruelty, 'human' might be the greater insult." In his book "Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic," Osho stated: "The whole past history of humanity has been sick, unhealthy, insane. In three thousand years, five thousand wars have been fought. This is just utterly mad, it is unbelievable." Equally mad, equally unbelievable is humanity's treatment of the animal world.
- by Scott Palczak
2.) PETA UK VIDEO: Dead Piglets Left to Rot on British Pig Factory Farms
3.) MARK BITTMAN: IS FACTORY FARMING EVEN WORSE THAN WE KNOW?http://markbittman.com/horrific-animal-abuses-uncovered-at-smithfiel/
4.) PETA VIDEO: PIG FARMING in ONE MINUTE
5.) FACTORY FARMING: HELL on EARTH - by Mercy for Animals
6.) PAUL McCARTNEY - If Slaughterhouses had Walls
7.) AFTER 30,000 COWS FREEZE to DEATH, PETA Calls for Animal - Free Agriculture Subsidies
8.) HOWARD LYMAN'S WEBSITE: The Former Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat
9.) NEW YORK TIMES: AMERICA'S WILDLIFE BODY COUNT
10.) FARM SANCTUARY WEBSITE
11.) THE KIND LIFE: Alicia Silverstone's Website
THE KIND DIET - by Alicia Silverstone
Page 25) Factory farming creates toxic sludge: The meat industry has a nasty reputation for not containing its waste very well. Not only does the poo, fertilizers, and other toxic sludge get into the soil, it can leach into nearby rivers and water tables. We have strict laws about the disposal of human waste but none for the animal equivalent, and according to Worldwatch Institute, U.S. livestock produces 130 times more fecal matter than people do! In fact, one farm in Utah with 500,000 pigs produces more fecal matter than the 1.5 million inhabitants of Manhattan.
All this toxic poo is doing real damage: With so many farms along the banks of the Mississippi, agricultural waste is leaching into the river at an alarming rate. There is so much excess nitrogen from fertilizer and excrement, in fact, that it has created what's called "the Dead Zone" at the mouth of the river, in the Gulf of Mexico. This dead zone, which has no oxygen and therefore cannot sustain any life, was almost 8,000 square miles in size in 2008. Whoa. Next time you tuck into a juicy steak, know that it is responsible for 17 times more water pollution than a bowl of noodles.
Page 27) We're destroying the rainforest: It's one thing to damage our own country, but our lust for cheap burgers is creating so much demand for beef that the South and Central American cattle industries are clearing rain forest to make room for more cattle pasture. In fact, cattle grazing is the number one factor in the destruction of the rain forest, and we're losing 2.4 acres of it per second. That's 144 acres per minute. Seventy - five million acres per year! Rain forests used to cover 14 percent of the earth, but now it covers only 6 percent. You see, every hamburger requires a plot of land the size of a small kitchen to be cleared. Is that burger worth it?
Page 26) The meat industry is oil - hungry: It takes more than 11 times the energy to create animal protein than grain protein. When you take into account the fuel used for planting, watering, and harvesting of the grain a cow eats, its transportation, the energy used by factory farms, transportation of the cows to slaughter, and then the distribution of the meat to you . . that Big Mac looks more like it's made of fossil fuel than beef. Because the average American eats 97 pounds of beef a year, our national burger - lust requires the energy equivalent of a mere 29 BILLION GALLONS of GAS!
Page 26) Cows are cute, but they're wrecking America: The meat industry is clearly siphoning off a disproportionate share of precious resources like fuel and water, but the grazing of cattle is wreaking havoc on the land itself. Cows and other livestock are wandering around on approximately 160 million acres of federally - owned land leased to farmers. And their innocent grazing isn't so innocent. More than half the topsoil of the American West has been lost since cattle started grazing 140 years ago. According to "Mad Cowboy" by Howard Lyman, it takes nature from 100 to 800 years to create a single inch of topsoil, and since the birth of this country, we've lost 6 full inches. That might just sound like a bunch of dirt disappearing, but topsoil is the incubator of life itself. Without it, no plants can grow, and without plants, all animals die. By allowing millions of cows to stomp on, poo on, and kick up precious topsoil, we are shooting ourselves in the collective hoof. When enough soil is dried or displaced, a negative spiral begins that causes rich, fertile soil to become desert. And there's no recovery from that anywhere in the near future. Desertification from overgrazing is a global problem.
Page 25) Animals eat a lot of food: Did you know that more than 50 percent of the corn grown in the United States is eaten by animals. Roughly 8 percent of corn grown is for human food use. Sixty million acres of the United States are devoted to growing hay primarily for livestock, while we use only 13 million acres to grow fruits and vegetables. While 1.2 billion people do not have enough to eat every day, we're bending over backward to make sure the 20 billion cows, pigs, and chickens are getting fatter and fatter by the minute.
Meat wastes water: Forty - two percent of the fresh water available to us in the United States is used for agriculture. Some is used to grow grain for us, some for growing grain for animals, and some for hydrating and washing the animals. It takes 441 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, and that's according to what the Cattleman's Association says. Dr. Georg Borgstrom, who chairs the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University, thinks it's more like 2,500 gallons. That's not 2,500 gallons per cow - it's per pound of beef. By comparison, it takes only 33 gallons of water to grow a pound of carrots. One 16 - ounce steak uses the amount of water you need for 6 months of showers! Holy cow!
Page 28) Killing is a big deal: We tend to hide from this fact, but let's open our minds to it for just a moment. That was a life. Now it's dead. And it's in your body. Ever seen someone make the transition to death? It's a big deal - especially when there's suffering involved. Just for a moment, stop thinking of it as a delicious treat. Go beyond the sensory pleasure of your taste buds and consider for a moment what you're really doing when you eat meat. Could you eat your dog? Your cat? Why not? It's just like an animal like a cow or pig. What's the difference between your pet animal and the animal you had for dinner last night? If your answer is "I don't know," please meditate on that question for a while before eating meat again.
If you can tell me you honestly believe there is a difference, then you've probably never hung out with a cow. I encourage you to go to an animal sanctuary and hang around with a few. They will love it, and so will you. Roll with the pigs. Tell me that they don't love living and that they don't feel pain. Every single creature wants to live fully. That's what God designed us to do. That's our purpose. Who are we to take that away unless we have to? And these days, where's the "have to"?
Page 29) Meat production is downright cruel: And by the end they know what's coming. Don't kid yourself. They can smell the blood. They can sense the fear. They can hear the animals moaning. Wouldn't you understand, in their position? Denial would have us equate slaughter with having a pet "put down" at the vet. But that's just a comfortable delusion.
90,000 U.S cows and calves slaughtered every day.
14,000 chickens are killed in this country every minute.
Over 300 million baby chicks are killed in this country per year - more than one for every person in this country.
Although the Federal Human Slaughter Act is supposed to keep certain practices in place, the law is rarely enforced. In 2000, a video was leaked out of workers at an Iowa Beef Processors (now Tyson Foods) plant in Washington State. Cows were routinely "stunned" by devices that didn't work, left to experience their painful ends with sensitivity and consciousness intact. The video showed cows being skinned alive, kicking for freedom as their legs were cut off. Employees who were willing to talk estimate that 30 percent of the animals on the kill line were not properly stunned.
Also in 2000, a video showed footage of pigs at a North Carolina hog factory being kicked, stomped on, and killed by blows to the head with cinder blocks. Pigs who did not measure up to industry standards for sale were picked up by the hind legs and bashed against the floor, a practice called "thumping."
I know these stories are hard to read, but it's the reality of what goes into the food on your plate. The greatest crime being committed against these animals is not the eating of their meat, but our willful ignorance of their experience. As long as we keep our eyes closed, we can we feel comfortable, and as long as we're comfortable, they will continue to suffer and die.
It's easy to get angry at the cattle ranchers and the big business that keeps meat rolling into our stores and restaurants, but I have to remember that they are just responding to market demands. If we stop the flow of money to these industries by converting to a plant - based diet, they will eventually have to convert their land and processing facilities into newer, more profitable ventures. Livelihoods need not be lost - they will just change. Likewise, as we spend our dollars on sustainable, ethical industries, we create a better world. It' simple.
When asked, the majority of Americans consider themselves animal lovers and are genuinely interested in treating animals humanely, yet we spend our hard - earned cash to support cruelty every day. We grill up the barbecue, add some ketchup, wash it down with a beer, and then take an antacid to digest it all! Weird. Meanwhile the industries doing the killing - while creating images of happy cows and free - running chickens to assuage our guilt - are working overtime to push through legislation that permits them to be even more cruel and make more money.
Page 42) The dairy industry is, in a word, cruel: That is why I gave up dairy in the first place. You see, cows don't produce milk all the time. I thought that, by milking them, we were basically doing them a favor. I assumed they would sort of . . . explode if they weren't milked! Well, they don't. Just like humans they only produce milk when they give birth to a baby. So in order to have careers in lactation, cows are kept pregnant almost constantly.
Once she gives birth, her calf is taken away from her; baby boys become veal and girls become milkers. The separation anxiety she feels is as real to her as it would be to us. Cows have been known to escape their farms and go searching for their offspring. A farmer in England found one of his dairy cows a full 17 miles from home, suckling her biological calf.
But if we're taking the cow's milk for our use, what does the baby get? Well, for 6 months the baby boy calves are chained to little veal crates, not allowed to stand up, fed synthetic formula, and then slaughtered. And that is how we get veal. So if you use any cow dairy products, you are helping to perpetuate the veal industry.
After baby is gone, mom cow is shot up with hormones to make her produce 10 to 20 times more milk than she would need to suckle her calf. This puts tremendous strain on her udders - think of a woman with painful GGG implants hanging to her knees - often causing a horrible infection called mastitis, which makes her udders pus - ridden and bloody. To treat the mastitis, they have to give her antibiotics.
Finally she gets milked - and not by some nice pair of hands gently caressing her udders, but by a machine that is so rough it causes blood and pus from the mastitis to go into the milk!
After 2 to 7 years of this (normal cows should live 20 to 25 years, but dairy cows are burned out by this torture), our cow girlfriend doesn't get to retire and live on a farm - no, no, no. She is considered a machine that has outlived its warranty, so she is sent to slaughter. Her life is miserable and painful from day one until the very end.
- from "The Kind Diet " - by Alicia Silverstone
ANIMAL RIGHTS: Current Debates and New Directions
- by Cass R. Sunstein & Martha C. Nussbaum
Page 206) It is almost impossible to imagine the number of farmed animals. Approximately 9.5 Billion animals die annually in food production in the United States. This compares with some 218 million killed by hunters and trappers and in animal shelters, biomedical research, product testing, dissection, and fur farms combined. Approximately 23 million chickens and some 268,000 pigs are slaughtered every 24 hours in the United States. That's 266 chickens per second, 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.
Certainly, making this many animals disappear from the law is an enormous task. It has been accomplished, in significant part, through the efforts of the industry that owns these animals to obtain complete control, in one way or another, over the law that governs it. While this is not an unusual effort on the part of industry generally, the farmed - animal industry's efforts have been exceptionally successful. The industry has devised a legally unique way to accomplish its purpose: It has persuaded legislatures to amend criminal statutes that purport to protect farmed animals from cruelty so that it cannot be prosecuted for any farming practice that the industry itself determines is acceptable, with no limit whatsoever on the pain caused by such practices. As a result, in most of the United States, prosecutors, judges, and juries no longer have the power to determine whether or not farmed animals are treated in an acceptable manner. The industry alone defines the criminality of its own conduct.
Page 207) FEDERAL LAW
In the case of farmed animals, federal law is essentially irrelevant. The Animal Welfare Act, which is the primary piece of federal legislation relating to animal protection and which sets certain basic standards for their care, simply exempts farmed animals, thereby making something of a mockery of its title.
As a result, the Humane Slaughter Act is the primary federal legislation affecting farm animals. It requires that livestock slaughter "be carried out only by humane methods" to prevent "needless suffering." Astoundingly, regulations promulgated pursuant to the statute exempt poultry, the result of which is that over 95 percent of all farmed (approximately 8.5 billion slaughtered per year) have no federal legal protection form inhumane slaughter.
Even given its limited applicability, the Humane Slaughter Act would constitute a significant imposition on industry except for the fact that there are no fines available for violation of the statute and significant penalties never imposed. There can be little doubt that the act is not being effectively enforced.
As Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) recently stated on the floor of the Senate:
"The law clearly requires that these poor creatures be stunned and rendered insensitive to pain before this process (i.e,, by which they are cut, skinned and scalded) begins. Federal law is being ignored. Animal cruelty abounds. It is sickening. It is infuriating. Barbaric treatment of helpless, defenseless creatures must not be tolerated even if these animals are being raised for food - and even more so, more so."
Page 208) In 2002, Congress determined that the lack of enforcement was so problematic that it passed a resolution entitled Enforcement of the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958, whereby it stated that "it is the sense of the Congress that the Secretary of Agriculture should fully enforce (the act)" and that "it is the policy of the United States that the slaughtering of livestock and the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter shall be carried out only by humane methods, as provided in the act."
This may be one of the few occasions where Congress has felt the need to, in effect, reenact an existing statute, though it did not increase the likelihood of compliance by requiring fines or other significant penalties for violations. The whole affair brings to mind Robin Williams's comment on the ability of the British police to impact criminal behavior without carrying guns: "Stop! Or I'll say 'Stop' again!"
- from "Animal Rights - Current Debates and New Directions"
THE FOOD REVOLUTION - by John Robbins
Page 236) What We Know
Water required to produce 1 pound of U.S. beef, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association: 441 gallons
Water required to produce 1 pound of U.S. beef, according to DR. Georg Borgstrom, chairman of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University: 2,500 gallons
Water required to produce 1 pound of California beef, according to the Water Education Foundation: 2,464 gallons
Water required to produce 1 pound of California foods, according to Soil and Water specialists, University of California Agricultural Extension, working with livestock farm advisors
1 pound of lettuce: 23 gallons
1 pound of tomatoes: 23 gallons
1 pound of potatoes: 24 gallons
1 pound of wheat 25 gallons
1 pound of carrots: 33 gallons
1 pound of apples: 49 gallons
1 pound of chicken 815 gallons
1 pound of pork: 1,630 gallons
1 pound of beef: 5,214 gallons
Using the figures of the Soil and Water specialists at the University of California Agricultural Extension is even more dramatic. By their analysis, you'd save more water by not eating a pound of California beef than you would by not showering for an entire year.
" In California, the single biggest consumer of water is not Los Angeles. It's not the oil and chemicals or defense industries. Nor is it the fields of grapes and tomatoes. It's irrigated pasture: grass grown in a near - desert climate for cows . . . The West's water crisis - and many of its environmental problems as well - can be summed up, implausible as this may seem, in a single word: livestock." (Marc Reisner, author, Cadillac Desert)
Meat produced in different parts of the country require different amounts of water. Meat produced in the Southeast takes much less water than meat produced in other regions; you don't need to irrigate nearly as much thanks to more rain during the growing season in the Southeast. Arizona and Colorado meat, on the other hand, take even more water than California.
Page 240) The Other End of the Cow, Pig, and Chicken
There are more chickens processed annually in the United States than there are people in the world - 7.6 billions chickens versus 6 billion humans. There are more turkeys in the United States than there are Homo Sapiens - over 300 million of the big birds. Plus there are now about 100 million hogs and 60 million beef cattle in the United Sates. What do you think happens to the excrement from so many animals?
Properly handled, manure is not waste but a natural, biodegradable fertilizer. In years past, most of the manure from livestock returned to enrich the soil. But today, when huge numbers of animals are concentrated in feedlots and confinement buildings, there is no economically feasible way to return the animals' wastes to the land. As a result, our agriculture is experiencing an increasing dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Deprived of manure and continually doused with chemicals, our nation's soils are losing their texture and ability to retain topsoil. Topsoil is the rich soil layer without which food production becomes seriously endangered. The amount of topsoil we are losing from Iowa alone would fill 165,000 Mississippi River barges a year. Losing topsoil, notes WorldWatch Institute's Ed Ayres, "has about the same effect on a terrestrial community as losing blood has on a person. Only so much can be lost."
Unfortunately, instead of being returned to the soil and helping to rebuild topsoil, the wastes from today's livestock often end up in our water.
"Mass production of meat has become a staggering source of pollution. Maybe cow pies were once a pastoral joke, but in recent years livestock waste has been implicated in massive fish kills and outbreaks of such diseases as pfiesteria, which causes memory loss, confusion and acute skin burning in people exposed to contaminated water. In the United States, livestock now produces 130 times as much waste as people do . . . These mega - farms are proliferating, and in populous areas their waste is tainting drinking water." (Time Magazine, 1999)
In 1997, the Senate Agricultural Committee issued a lengthy report on livestock waste in this country. In a synopsis of the report, the Scripps Howard news service wrote:
"Untreated and unsanitary, bubbling with chemicals and disease - bearing organisms . . . (livestock waste) goes into the soil and into the water that many people will, ultimately,
bathe in and wash their clothes with and drink. It's poisoning rivers and killing fish and sickening people . . . 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."
Page 212) Animals Not Dead Before Being Skinned
Most people believe that the law requires animals to be dead before they are cut into pieces, but this is not the case. According to the Humane Slaughter Act, animals who are not covered by the Act must be "insensible to pain" before being chained and cut up. This, in theory, is accomplished through use of an electric shock, called "stunning." The Humane Farming Association tapes showed, however, that often the stunning was not successful.
How often? In one signed affidavit, a slaughterhouse employee said, "I estimate that 30 percent of the cows are not properly knocked (stunned with the electric prod) . . . I can tell that these cows are alive because they're holding their heads up and a lot of times they make noise."
He was one of the seventeen IBP plant employees who risked their jobs and their families' security by signing affidavits reporting cruel conditions at the plant. One stated, "Cows can get 10 minutes down the line and still be alive. All the hide is stripped out down to the neck (by then)." Another added, "Workers can open the legs, the stomach, the neck, cut off the feet while the cow is still breathing . . I would estimate that one out of 10 cows is still alive when it's bled and skinned."
"I've seen thousands and thousands of cows go through the slaughter process alive," said one plant worker. "If I see a live animal," said another, "I cannot stop the line. Because the supervisor has told us that you have to work on (cut up) a cow that's still alive."
Page 190) The Golden Egg
When I asked one poultry producer whether he was worried about the increasing public concern for farm animal welfare, he told me, "They're just stupid birds."
This attitude underlies the way chickens are treated in the poultry industry today. "They're just stupid birds," so there's no limit to how cruelly you can treat them. People with a little more sensitivity, however, look at it differently.
Bernard Rollin, the Colorado State University expert on animal farming notes that,
"Contrary to what one may hear from the industry, chickens are not mindless, simple automata but are complex behaviorally, do quite well in learning, show a rich social organization, and have a diverse repertoire of calls.
Anyone who has kept barnyard chickens also recognizes their significant differences in personality . . . There are vivid and classic bucolic images of chickens pecking contentedly in a barnyard . . . Conversely, few images in agriculture are more grating to common sense than chickens squeezed into small cages."
In Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Switzerland, however, it became illegal in the 1990s to keep chickens in cages. In the United States, sadly, the practice is not only still legal, but standard.
Page 191) When chickens are crowded together this tightly, their innate sense of a pecking order is obliterated. As a result, they become violent and sometimes peck each other to death. The industry responds with a procedure commonly called "debeaking." The procedure consists of routinely cutting off 1/3 of each bird's beak so that they won't kill each other in their frustration at being crammed into tiny cages with no possible outlet for their innate drives and instincts.
Although McDonald's implied in 2000 that the company was banning debeaking, this was not the case. The company was actually only calling for the debeaking to be done more carefully, so that the hens could still be able to eat. If implemented this would be an improvement, because the procedure often leaves the birds so mutilated that they cannot eat properly. Some starve to death because they cannot eat at all.
But McDonald's proposed changes still did not reduce the conditions that drive the chickens so mad that they attack each other in the first place. The industry is happy with what they euphemistically calls "beak trimming" because it renders the birds incapable of doing much harm to company property - in this case, the other birds.
More than 90 percent of the hens who lay the eggs in the United States are debeaked and kept in cages where the excrement from the birds in the upper tiers collects above them, often falling onto their heads.
When egg production declines, the hens are often subjected to a process called "forced molting," in which they are starved and denied water. This shocks the hens into losing their feathers. Those that survive start a new egg laying cycle.
From the book "THE FOOD REVOLUTION: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World" - by John Robbins
SIX ARGUMENTS for A GREENER DIET - by Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D
Page 73) Better Soil
Producing food animals, and the grains and soybeans that speed their growth, takes a tremendous toll on farmland - particularly its precious topsoil. Growing crops for animal feed frequently erodes the soil, as does overgrazing of grasses by livestock. Further, cattle's constant trampling of vulnerable rangeland can almost irreparably damage the environment. The immense quantities of fertilizers - including old - fashioned manure, urban processed sewage sludge, and conventional chemicals - and pesticides used to grow feed grains contain nutrients and toxins that disrupt the soil ecosystem, poison wildlife, and pollute local and far - off waterways.
Agriculture has an enormous impact on soil and soil quality: Grazing land and cropland are the second - and third - largest uses of land in the United States (forests are the largest), together accounting for just under half of America's total acreage. In contrast, urbanization affects only about 3 to 5 percent of the U.S. land area.
Page 74) Importance of Good Topsoil
Soil, along with water and sunlight, is one of the three fundamental elements of crop production. A thick layer of topsoil, rich in such nutrients as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, absorbs and holds rainwater well and provides the best environment for growing crops.
But topsoil can be lost, leached away by water or blown away by wind. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that almost 2 billion tons of topsoil eroded from cropland in 2001. That's a huge amount, but represents a 40 percent decline since 1982. The main cause of erosion is the lack of plants that hold the soil in place. Native meadow grasses, hay, and small grains such as wheat help protect topsoil by providing a solid cover over a field. Many large farms, however, plant livestock feed crops, such as corn and soybeans, that are grown in rows and endanger topsoil since the bare patches between each row are relatively susceptible to erosion. The loss of topsoil reduces fertility, which increases the need for chemical fertilizers. And the switch from healthy natural topsoil to artificial nutrients leads to a whole host of problems - nutrient imbalances, runoff, and water pollution - detailed later in this chapter.
Page 75) Livestock's Demand on Soil
Feeding grain to livestock and then eating the livestock (or their eggs or milk) needs a lot more land than just eating the grains themselves. Raising livestock creates a huge demand for corn, soybeans, and a few other crops. About 66 percent of U.S. grain ends up as livestock feed at home or abroad. While pigs and chickens consume a good share of that grain, cattle at feedlots are the biggest consumers, in part because they are the least efficient converters of grain to meat. Outside the United States, livestock consume only 21 percent of total grain production, with the vast majority of grains consumed directly by people. But as nations' incomes rise, so does their appetite for pork, chicken, and grain - fed beef.
Frequently, farmers respond to the huge demand for feed grains by turning to monocropping - raising single crops over huge areas - or they use limited rotations, where two crops destined for livestock feed are raised in alternating years. About 16 percent of corn - over 12 million acres - is raised without any rotation at all, though the majority of corn - 59 percent - is rotated with soybeans. Meadow grasses and small grains (such as wheat), both vital to the preservation of topsoil, are included in only 8 percent of corn rotations, according to the USDA.
Page 80) Effects of What We're Putting on the Soil
Loss of topsoil decreases productivity, so to compensate for that farmers add soil nutrients. That means applying fertilizer - and lots of it - in the form of chemicals, manure, or treated sewage sludge.
Fertilizer causes environmental problems primarily because farmers often apply too much to their land. Because about half of all fertilizer applied in the United Sates is used solely for raising feed grains for animals, reducing that usage could reduce environmental degradation.
Even when not over - applied, nitrogen fertilizer causes serious environmental problems. That fertilizer is usually applied as ammonium nitrate, which can react with oxygen in the air and release ammonia. Ammonia can damage local ecosystems, including the plant life on the fertilized land. When carried by wind and rain, the ammonia may be deposited in waterways and affect distant ecosystems. When the oxygen content of soil is low, nitrogen fertilizer undergoes a process called denitrificatiion, which yields a variety of nitrogen - containing gases, including nitrogen gas, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide (which are together known as NOx, since, in the presence of sunlight, they rapidly interconvert), and nitrous oxide.
The harmless nitrogen gas simply returns to the atmosphere. However, NOx destroys ozone, impairs lung function, and contributes to fog and acid rain. It travels even farther from its source than ammonia. Nitrous oxide is a destructive greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Agriculture contributes about 37 percent of all nitrous oxide releases in the United States, with much of that coming from fertilizer.
Besides polluting the air, fertilizers also increase the acidity of the soil. That reduces the soil's ability to hold nutrients and can permanently reduce soil productivity. Acidification ordinarily is controlled by applying even more chemicals, such as lime (calcium carbonate).
Page 90) Irrigation Water: Trillions of Gallons Wasted
American farmers irrigate about 56 million acres of land, or 88,000 square miles. Some 23 million of those acres - an area the size of Indiana - are devoted to crops destined to feed livestock.
The most frequently irrigated crops are corn (some is also used to produce ethanol fuel) and hay, with another 4 to 5 million acres each being planted in soybeans; sorghum, barley, and wheat; and cotton (cottonseed meal is used as livestock feed). In stark contrast, vegetables, vineyards, and fruits and nut tree orchards together occupy only 7 million acres of irrigated land.
The amount of water devoted to irrigating alfalfa and other hay - 7 trillion gallons annually - exceeds the irrigation needs of all vegetables, berries, and fruit orchards combined.
Of the roughly 28 trillion gallons of water used for irrigation each year, about 14 trillion gallons are applied to the grains, oilseeds, pasture, and hay that are fed to livestock in the United States, and an additional 3 trillion gallons are used to produce grains for food or export.
Irrigation Methods Are Often Inefficient
But only 4 percent use highly efficient low - flow systems, such as drip irrigation. Though more expensive than flooding systems, drip irrigation can reduce water use by 30 to 70 percent and increase crop yields by 20 to 90 percent. Adopting better conservation practices and more efficient technologies, which many farmers are now doing, could save tremendous amounts of water.
The timing, as well as the method, of irrigation can waste water and result in "waterlogging, increased soil salinity, erosion, and surface and groundwater quality problems associated with nutrients, pesticides, and pathogens," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In 2003, only 8 percent of farmers who irrigated their crops measured the moisture content of their plants or soil before irrigating. University of California at Berkeley researchers found that the use of computer models enabled farmers to use 13 percent less water and increase crop yields by 8 percent.
Page 91) Irrigation may Be a Bad Investment
Irrigated crops account for about half of all crop sales in the United States, even though they are harvested from only one - sixth of all cropland. Using irrigation to increase yields means that less land is required to meet the same production goals (it may also contribute to over - production).
In the case of feed crops, the USDA estimates that 100 gallons of irrigation water generates only a few cents in increased farm revenue - hardly a great bargain. The same water could be used for more lucrative purposes. For example, an irrigated acre of corn yields about 163 bushels, which in 2002 was worth about $383. In contrast, 1 irrigated acre could produce about $2,400 worth of potatoes or $4,100 worth of apples. The non - profit Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that "a 60 - acre alfalfa farm using 240 acre - feet of water would generate approximately $60,000 in sales. In contrast, a semiconductor plant using the same amount of water would generate 5,000 times as much, or $300 million."
Page 93) Livestock's Consumption of Water is Huge - and Growing
Although water used for livestock accounts for a tiny share of national water consumption - about 0.5 percent - it is the fastest - growing portion, both in terms of water to drink and the "virtual" water used to grow grains, oilseeds, hay, and pasture. From 1990 to 1995, most categories of water (surface and ground) consumption fell, but water for public use grew by 4 percent and water used for livestock (including fish farming) grew by 13 percent. Combined with the growing number of livestock over the past 20 years, the increasing number of large cattle feedlots and industrial hog farms may contribute to rising demand for water.
Hog farms use large volumes of water to prepare manure for storage in huge lagoons, and feedlots employ misting systems to cool cattle. On traditional farms, in contrast, livestock might find shade or other natural ways to cool off.
Page 94) Modern Farming Practices Pollute Water
Irrigation, water, pesticides, fertilizer, manure, drugs . . . they are all widely used or produced on farms, and they often end up polluting nearby streams. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that "agriculture generates pollutants that degrade aquatic life or interfere with public use of 173,629 river miles (i.e. 25% of all rivers surveyed) and contributes to 70% of all water quality problems in rivers and streams." The pollution, if great enough, kills fish and other aquatic life, prevents people from swimming, reduces crop yields, and impairs drinking water.
Page 95) Irrigation Leads to Erosion, Runoff, and Salinization
In addition to wasting water, irrigation can degrade the environment. Erosion affects over 20 percent of America's irrigated cropland. When furrows are used to channel irrigation water, sediment runoff often exceeds 9 tons - and sometimes even reaches 45 tons - per acre. Center - pivot sprinkler irrigation causes soil losses as high as 15 tons per acre. The financial cost of replacing nutrients from lost soil runs into billions of dollars annually. In southern Idaho, for example, irrigation - induced erosion has reduced overall crop - yield potential (the estimated seasonal maximum yield) by about 25 percent.
Eroded soil pollutes waterways. The USDA considers sediment from eroded soil to be the "largest contaminant of surface water by weight and volume." In addition, excess irrigation water may pick up contaminants and carry them into rivers and streams. Those contaminants commonly include pesticides and heavy metals (which contaminate fish) and nutrients from manure and fertilizer (which can lead to algal blooms and loss of oxygen). In California, selenium - which is a naturally occurring element in soil - was so highly concentrated in irrigation water runoff that it caused an epidemic of deformities in migrating waterfowl, including hatchlings born with no eyes or feet.
Water extracted from lakes and streams may contain pollutants, such as long - banned pesticides. When that water is applied to farmland, some of it evaporates, leaving behind higher concentrations of those pollutants. In other cases, pollutants settle at the bottoms of streams and lakes, causing them to concentrate and degrade water quality.
Perhaps the most serious danger posed by irrigation to agriculture and the environment is salinization. Water - especially surface water - naturally contains salt. Irrigation water carries those salts onto cropland. When the water evaporates, salts are left behind. Salt buildup can reduce crop yields, and, in extreme cases, may force farmers to abandon once - fertile land. Most estimates put the affected acreage at about 10 million acres, or almost 20 percent of all irrigated land.
Page 113) Argument # 6 - Less Animal Suffering
"Our inhumane treatment of livestock is becoming widespread and more and more barbaric . . A Texas beef company, with 22 citations for cruelty to animals, was found chopping off the hooves of live cattle . . Secret videos from an Iowa pork plant show hogs squealing and kicking as they are being lowered into the boiling water that will soften . . the bristles on the hogs and make them easier to skin . . . barbaric treatment of helpless, defenseless creatures must not be tolerated even if these animals are being raised for food. . . Such insensitivity is insidious and can spread and is dangerous. Life must be dealt with humanely in a civilized society." - U.S. Senator Robert Byrd
Many animals die to please our palette. About 140 million cattle, pigs and sheep are slaughtered annually in the United states - about half an animal for every man, woman, and child. Add to that 9 billion chickens and turkeys - 30 birds for every American - plus millions of fish, shellfish, and other sea creatures.
The American Meat Institute contends that "Animal handling in meat plants has never been better." That might well be true, but "never been better" falls far short of "good."
There's no easy way to know what constitutes happiness or contentment or pain for a pig, a cow, or a chicken. We can anthropomorphize livestock, imagining how it would feel to undergo some of the same experiences: having our teeth pulled or being castrated without anesthesia, for example. And in many cases, the pain an animal is experiencing is perfectly obvious. However, that approach is considered by some to be too subjective to establish the effects of such practices on animals. New tests are being developed that use the behavioral and biochemical markers of stress to evaluate farm animal welfare. Because the European, but not the American, legal system treats livestock as sentient, conscious creatures, the majority of that research is taking place abroad.
Food animals are not protected by federal animal welfare laws. In fact, farm animals are specifically exempted from the laws that protect rats, mice, and other laboratory animals. While more than 30 states have livestock anti-cruelty laws, they typically exempt "common" or "customary" practices. Therefore, painful procedures - such as when animals' beaks, horns, tails, or testes are chopped off - are legal because most farmers use them.
As Mathew Scully argues in his book "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy," "When the law sets billions of creatures apart from the basic standards elsewhere governing the treatment of animals, when the law denies in effect that they are animals at all, that is not neutrality. That is falsehood, and license for cruelty."
Page 116) Stamped as Property
Beef cattle - especially out West - are often "branded" with a logo indicating their ownership. Branding has been used by ranchers for generations and has deep cultural resonance, if limited utility. Depending on its age at the time of branding, the animal is either pinned on the ground or constrained in a chute. The brand is then impressed into its hide using a blazing hot iron, which creates a third - degree burn; that painful process may be repeated when animals are sold to different owners.
Many more humane alternatives for animal identification exist, such as ear tags or retinal imaging, which should consign this outmoded practice to the history books.
Inconvenient Parts Removed
Nearly all bulls are castrated, which involves removing their testicles. The most common methods are slitting the scrotum and removing the testicles, blocking the circulation of blood to the scrotal sac with a tight rubber band, breaking the spermatic cord with pliers, or injecting the testicles with an acid or other chemical. All are performed without painkillers.
Page 119) Debeaking, Detoeing, and Maceration
Because of the economic losses associated with feather pecking, egg farmers routinely trim off the birds' beaks. Debeaking causes both acute and chronic pain, including during eating. To prevent sometimes serious injury during fights, poultry are often detoed.
Treatment of male chicks is even more grotesque. Because the egg industry has no use for those birds, they are summarily killed. The current method of choice is to dispose of the birds in what is effectively a modified wood chipper. Industry parlance describes this as "instant maceration using a specially designed high - speed grinder." Other methods of disposal, considered less humane, include suffocation and crushing.
- from the book "Six Arguments for a Greener Diet" - by Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D.,
and the Staff of the Center for Science in the Public Interest
MAD COWBOY - by Howard Lyman
Page 137) The government often picks up the tab for water pipelines, fences, cattle guards, seeding, and weeding. The government's Animal Damage Control division kills an estimated 250,000 wild animals annually to accommodate ranchers who don't want them harming their livestock.
Almost all public lands ranching in America takes place in 11 western states, and virtually all land in those states that can possibly be grazed by livestock is currently used for that purpose. Seventy - five percent of the 418 million acres of publicly owned land in the West (federal, state, and local) is used by ranchers for private gain.
Two government agencies - the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service - administer 85 percent of public ranchland, ranging from National Forests to grasslands to shrublands, brushlands, and riparian areas. While raising beef is always an inherently inefficient business, doing so on public land in the arid West takes the grand prize for wastefulness.
The average range steer consumes 6 tons of range plant material before going to slaughter. Vegetation and seeds that are not consumed by cattle are often killed by the trampling of livestock hooves. An untold number of plant species have been wiped out by overgrazing, and often the "invading" plants that have replaced them by virtue of being unpalatable to cattle tend to be highly flammable and to hold the soil less well than native grasses.
Overgrazing also reduces the "organic litter" of brush and leaves that helps plant grow. When there is less plant cover, fewer roots remain to hold soil together. The result is increased soil erosion from winds, rain, and floods. Overgrazing also contributes mightily to a decline in plant diversity, so essential to ecological health, putting more plants on the endangered list than any other cause. In the "State of the World," Lester Brown warned that:
Ecological burdens from intensive livestock operations include loss of native vegetation, decline of fisheries as water is diverted for irrigation and stream habitats are degraded, diseases in native herbivores, and major changes in fire frequency, soils, hydrology, and other ecosystem processes . . . Half of U.S. rangeland, most of it in the mountainous West, is now considered severely degraded, with its carrying capacity reduced by at least 50 percent.
Page 142) It shouldn't be surprising that by damaging streams, grasslands, riparian zones, and forests, livestock wind up devastating other forms of animal life. Keep in mind that cattle are an invading species, not native to our continent.
Cattle have displaced buffalo, elk, deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and moose, among other large herbivores that used to roam our continent in far greater numbers than they do today. These species currently struggle forth with only 1 to 3 percent of their primeval population.
The cattle culture's destructive impact on native species is felt in a myriad of ways. Pronghorn, deer, and other native ungulates, for example, like to hide their newborn in tall grass to protect them from predators. With cattle maintaining sovereignty over the land, tall grass is hard to find, and the newborn are left vulnerable. Grizzly bears experience nutritional deprivation from livestock grazing, and as a result suffer declining fertility.
The bovine is truly a formidable and resourceful killer in the disguise of an innocent, melancholy, big - eyed grass eater. All kinds of animals have suffered under its domination of the West. Rabbits are endangered by the lack of vegetative cover for shelter and food; frogs, toads, and insects miss the rich, moist soil that livestock have dried and hardened; wild pigs are deprived of grasses, nuts, and berries; fish go belly - up in the cow -polluted streams and rivers; elk and antelope perish from diseases borne by livestock - spread bacteria; people get heart attacks, diabetes, and cancer.
Page 128) What the livestock industry does to our air, however, pales next to the extraordinary damage it does to our land and water. Cattle are as adept at destroying streams and rivers as they are at degrading land and fouling the air. Wading cows widen streams unnaturally, as their hooves break off large chunks of soil and deposit them into the water. As naturalist George Wuerthner points out, "This damage is so prevalent that most people do not realize that sluggish brown waterways were not the norm in the pristine West." As the widened, more shallow streams grow warmer by greater exposure to the sun through both greater surface area and reduced plant cover, algae proliferate, water evaporates more easily, and less dissolved oxygen is available for the fish that need it to survive. While an increase of only 5 degrees in water temperature can spell doom for some species of fish, the changes brought on by livestock grazing have been known to increase water temperatures by 10 degrees or more. Massive "fish kills" and the demise of other aquatic animals are often the result.
While cattle hooves widen our streams and rivers, cattle dung pollutes it. Often livestock waste is dumped into streams as the most efficient means of disposal. Feedlot wastes can be several times more concentrated than raw domestic sewage. Ammonia, nitrates, and bacteria generated by this waste inevitably wind up polluting rivers, streams, and wells. It is a problem of awesome dimension. On a typical feedlot, with 10,000 head, as much as half a million pounds of cow dung is produced daily. The largest feedlots, with 100,000 head, have a waste problem equal to that of the largest American cities. Livestock waste exceeds human waste in tonnage nationwide by a factor of one hundred and thirty! It's been estimated that animal wastes are responsible for 10 times as much water pollution in America as the human population. Moreover, every year thousands of cattle carcasses are left to rot in streams and rivers, polluting them further.
Few people realize that it was the taste for beef and the grazing industry that fed it that, more than anything else, virtually wiped out the Native Americans throughout this continent. The competition for land that lay behind the violence between "cowboys and Indians" was made necessary only because the cowboys required vast stretches of grassland for their cattle.
- from "MAD COWBOY" - by Howard Lyman
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