How The Meat Industry Is Polluting Our Waterways

Every second of every day, our environment is being damaged by pollution. Pollution destroys our soil, waterways, ground water, and the air we breathe. Some of the biggest contributors to pollution are the meat, dairy, and fishing industries.

In the United States alone, chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows in factory farms produce at least 5 million pounds of excrement every minute. They produce 130 times more excrement than the entire human population. This manure sewage is responsible for massive soil, water, and air pollution. The waste produced by the animals raised for food includes antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, hormones and other chemicals used to raise these animals. Also included is the methane released by the animals themselves, as well as carbon, nitrous oxide, and other methane emissions produced from raising, feeding, and killing the animals.

When it comes to pollution of our global water supply, livestock are responsible for 37% of the pesticide use, 55% of erosion, and 80% of the antibiotics consumed. This eventually ends up in our waterways, either directly or through runoff, contaminating our water. In the United States, 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and groundwater in 17 states, has been permanent contaminated by factory farm waste. The Meat Industry pollutes our waterways more than all other industries combined.

Pollution from animal factories is also wreaking havoc on our oceans. Streams and rivers carry large amounts of excrement and chemical waste from factory farms, which eventually ends up in the ocean. Accumulations of animal feces, fertilizers, and toxic waste cause death to plants and sea life, as it causes massive algae populations that leave inadequate oxygen for other forms of life. One of the worlds largest “dead zones” is located in the Gulf of Mexico off the U.S. Coast. This is an area half the size of the state of Maryland, in which almost all the sea animals and plants have perished.

With many waterways recently suffering from mass die-offs, the development of fish farms has greatly increased. Because most of the top ten species are greatly depleted and overexploited, businesses and governments have resorted to different ways of producing fish. Aquaculture, the raising of fish in a farmer area, increased by more than 3 million tons from 2006 to 2007 and is predicted to grow faster than all other animal industries. This expansion in aquaculture is driving an increase in global fishing. Due to the use of fish meal and fish oil, which is used by fish farms.

These fish farms now cause massive water pollution on two different levels. First by concentrating toxin levels and creating a higher potential for our exposure to them. When fish meal and fish oil are used in aquaculture, the process concentrates carcinogens because several contaminants and chemicals are in many kinds of fish, which are then passed on in more condensed forms as they work their way up the food chain. Farmed salmon, as an example, often have much higher levels of dioxin than wild salmon. This is due to a diet of fish meal, which has super high concentrations of pollutants to which all the fish comprising the meal were exposed to during their lifetime. Farm raised salmon and other species of fish now makeup most of the markets in areas such as the West coast of the United States.

The second level of pollution caused by fish farms is the massive amount of waste they produce. Farmers confine thousands of fish into extremely small ocean enclosures with enormous amounts of feces and other waste leaking into our oceans. Farms typically have 90,000 fish in a pen that is 100 feet by 100 feet. In one area with adjoining pens, as many as one million fish can be raised at the same time. Organic and chemical wastes from these farms are produced from these farms in several ways:

•Fish feces and bodily waste products
•Fish moralities that sink to the seabed
•Fish blood from farms that kill and bleed the fish on site prior to sale
•Uneaten food
•Eight types of antibiotics
•Feed additives and coloring agents to make their white flesh appear pink
•Zinc and copper
•Paints and disinfectants

All these produce high levels of nitrogen and toxins that flood the sea floor under the farms, creating large dead zones. In a study in 2001, it revealed that farmed salmon in British Columbia in one year produces as much nitrogen as the annual sewage from 682,000 people. A professor of fisheries at the University of British Columbia noted: “Fish farms are like floating pig farms.” They use tons of antibiotics, as well as pesticides and copper sulfate, an algaecide. This is due to diseases and parasites running rampant in the tight, overcrowded fish farms conditions. Swarms of sea lice actually end up being inadvertently incubated on the captive farmed fish and then attach themselves on wild salmon and other fish as they swim by the farm.

Fish farms have been studied in North America, but there are no accurate reports on other areas of the world, such as China, where they produce over 70% of the global farmed fish. These other farms may use even worse methods to farm fish resulting in even more pollution.

The solution to loss of marine life is to eliminate the demand for fish, not create new aquaculture. That only increases the level of depletion of fish. Whether talking about land, air, or water, our choices of food affect the levels of pollution and ecological sustainability. The more animal products you choose to eat the more you contribute to worldwide pollution. No matter what type of livestock or fish you consume there will always be excessive and unnecessary levels of pollution. Boycott fish and all animal agriculture.

Source: Dr. Richard Oppnenlander – Comfortably Unaware