3 Lies Big Food Wants You to Believe and the Truth Behind Factory-'Farmed' Meat
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CAFOs can put neighboring communities at risk of exposure to dangerous air and water contaminants. More than a million Americans, for example, take drinking water from groundwater contaminated by nitrogen-containing pollutants, mostly derived from agricultural fertilizers and animal waste applications. Several studies have linked nitrates in the drinking water to birth defects, disruption of thyroid function, and various types of cancers. Further, the use of antibiotics on livestock over sustained periods is widely acknowledged to increase the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Infections from these new "superbugs" are difficult to treat and increase human risk of disease. In a study of 226 North Carolina schools, children living within three miles of factory farms had significantly higher asthma rates and more asthma-related emergency room visits than children living more than three miles away. A separate study found that people living close to intensive swine operations suffer more negative mood states (e.g., tension, depression, anger, reduced vigor, fatigue, and confusion) than control groups. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide--given off by concentrated animal feeding operations--has been linked to neuropsychiatric abnormalities.
Food production that is safe for the environment, humane to animals, and sound for workers and communities gives us the best chance for a food system that is safe and healthy for eaters and producers alike.