factory farming and human health

The article Factory Farming and Human Health by T. O’Brien, M. Adock, J. Rifkin and B.M. Pickard is an examination of the effects of factory farming on human health in order to make the argument that large-scale farming is a danger to human health. The authors discuss the causes of the negative health effects such as close quarters for animals, exposure to excrement, dirt, a lack of sunlight and poor ventilation. As a result, bacteria is mutating and becoming more dangerous to human and animal health. Animal feed, including how livestock is being fed other animals and animal products that it would not otherwise consume and its role in infection transmission, is also discussed. A major point in the paper is that current hygiene restrictions are not effective because they do not address the root cause of the health problems.

The most pertinent information presented in the article is as followed:

  • The time of year affects the number and types of microbes present.
  • Animals can be more than transmitters of infections like Salmonella. They are not only disease carriers.
  • The acceptable limits for bacteria in food are surprisingly high. 1 in 3 fresh chickens and 41% of frozen birds are contaminated with Salmonella in the UK.
  • The bacterial mutations caused by factory farming are more detrimental to the health of humans and is becoming more prevalent.
  • How we treat the animals that we consume affects human health.

OBrien, T., Adock, M., Rifkin, J., & Pickard, B. M. (2001) Factory farming and human health. The Ecologist, 30-34.