Monday, June 8, 2009

Factory Farming, Population and Human Values

The previous post looked at how the enormous human population has created equally immense numbers of domesticated animals. They are so numerous (many billions) that they can no longer range on pasture lands but must be confined in horrid, cramped “factory farms.” (OK, OK, so they also make more profit, which justifies anything.) These factories, which will only get larger and more inhumane with human numbers increasing by over 70 million a year, may be the death of us yet, for they are perfect incubators for deadly viruses, and are just waiting for the right conditions to unleash a world-wide pandemic (the recent Mexican swine flu came close).
But what worries me even more is the loss of ethics, the loss of decency. We turn a blind eye to the fact that pigs, cattle, chickens and goats are also sentient creatures. We are all animals and share a common evolutionary heritage. Animals have feelings, emotions and sensitivity just like humans. The young of all animals want to be nourished and loved. The adults of all animals want security, to care for their young and to be loved. Farley Mowat summed it up nicely, “life itself – not human life – is the ultimate miracle upon this earth.”
The saddest part of all this is the loss of our own dignity and any shred of decency. If we don’t approve of Abu Ghraib prison and human torture, how can we possibly approve of factory farms? Humans may be all-powerful on this earth, but we are pathetic, sadistic, murderous bullies. We should be ashamed. We need to put our house in order. Let’s start by bringing our populations down to levels that are in harmony with the earth and the creatures on it.

3 comments: said...

If the leaders of the global political economy continue to recklessly expand the large-scale production of food to feed an already rapidly growing population, then absolute global human population numbers will continue to skyrocket as they are now. The relentless effort to increase the world's food supply appears to be a primary precipitant of a global human population explosion. A billion people are hungry on Earth in our time. More poor people live in our planetary home today than existed on Earth in the year of my birth.

Why not end large-scale agricultural production and everywhere encourage an increase in sustainable farming practices? Why not fairly and equitably distribute the world's abundant food harvests so that the starving can fed? We have hundreds of millions of people who are starving as well as many too many millions of people who suffer from the ravages of gluttony. The human family could move toward more healthful living standards for all by redistributing available food resources.

The family of humanity is going to have to stop sleepwalking through life and immediately awaken, however difficult that may be, to the human-driven global challenges threatening human wellbeing and environmental health in our time.

Perhaps necessary change is in the offing because its occurrence must come soon.

Otherwise, I fear, the human community could reap the Biblical whirlwind, a storm blast of epic proportions, that gives rise to some kind of unimaginably huge and destructive global ecological wreckage.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on the Human Population,
established 2001

Anonymous said...

He is ABSOLUTELY correct . Ask any Veterinarian Clinical Pathologist,and they will be the first to tell you,how factory farming,and encroachment of wildlife is a HUGE role-player in the development of zoonotic diseases crossing over to the human realm.

Anonymous said...

Anyone educated in history, science and ethics will all agree that factory farming, CAFOs, etc., all remind us of the history humans have inflicted on each other. Similar to WWII concentration camps, US Civil War POW camps (both sides), etc. all have similar treatment, living conditions and care that animals in factory farms experience. These factory farms are comparable to those inhumane settings as they deprive lives of their basic needs.

Depriving animals and humans basic, instinctual and natural behaviors is punishment. Why we feel animals are different than us, is a question for our human history.

We kill male chicks once they hatch, we deprive battery hens of their basic needs, and we force grass eating animals to eat corn and stand in their feces because it's "cheaper" and "more profitable".

Our population is increasing as a direct result of factory farms. If they weren't existent, food would be more expensive based on the population expansion and scarcity of food. Balance will happen once a food shortage occurs. We get around food shortages by censoring media access to food production claim food shortages without them.

The 1% is getting rich over these factories. They state that there are only a few bad apples. But these bad apples would never be around if these factories weren't there in the first place. Similarly, the use of antibiotics and allowing the filth and un-natural living of these animals' lives is going to cause our own decline.

We are humans and we repeat our history. We've been bottle-necked before, and it's just a matter of "when" it is going to happen, not "if".