Animal breeding is known to be one of the oldest occupations of humankind in line with hunting and gathering. Nowadays, under any condition, it is easy to open a business in farming, and this kind of activity is profitable enough. Therefore, to open such business, one does not need a significant investment in order to treat animals and sell meat products since meat is always in demand (Pollan). Therefore, this business is built on the growing demand for meat products (for example, meat, dairy products, eggs, and others) rather than on the needs of the livestock that is treated inappropriately in order to grow the necessary amount of food to satisfy the consumer needs. Nowadays, the conditions of farms, cages, feeding and breeding for food animals are worse than simply bed. Moreover, poor treatment and overuse of chemicals not only cause deterioration of the quality of meat and animal products but also influence human health, leading to obesity, bacterial infections and poisoning (Pollan 43). As a result, the issue of poor treatment of the livestock shall be addressed in order to improve the condition of modern food industry.
In fact, over the last 50 years, meat consumption per capita has doubled (Pollan 110). In the meantime, the Earth’s population is also constantly increasing, leading to a rise in the demand and meat consumption. However, what is more important is the average performance; thus, in some countries, meat was and still is a rare product on the table, while in other states, the consumption has increased several times (Nagesh). According to forecasts, until 2050, the world’s meat production will rise from 229 to 465 million tons per year. It is worth noting that a significant proportion of meat is beef. For example, the US annually consumes about 11 million tons of beef (Pollan 96). The current meat consumption has reached such a high level due to the fact that in the industrialized countries farm animals are no longer treated as sentient beings and are seen as a raw material, which is necessary to be squeezed to get as much profit as possible in the shortest time and at the lowest cost.
In Europe and the United States, the phenomenon of industrialized farming has been called “factory farming” (Economou and Gousia 49). Features of the factory approach to raising animals in the West are high concentration, enhanced operation and complete disregard for basic ethical norms (Pollan 25). Owing to this intensification of production, meat is no longer a luxury but an available nutrition source to the majority of the population.
Cattle in the United States, for instance, are still grown on the field. Nevertheless, there is also lack of space for human settlements. Therefore, a cow spends only a part life in meadows, which is usually a few months (Bonne). Afterward, they are transported to fattening base to make the meat cows reach the standard to satisfy highly demanding tastes of consumers in the several months. Due to overcrowding, which sometimes stretches for miles, the cows are in distress, continuously gain body weight, are knee-deep in the muck, and absorb the highly concentrated food comprising grains, bone and fish meal and different edible plants (Pollan 54).
Obviously, the healthy animals in the commercial content of the question, while suffering from cramped conditions, unnatural diet, stress, lack of sanitation, have survived to the massacre. However, it would be difficult to achieve it without the help of pharmaceuticals. In such circumstances, the only way to reduce the loss of cattle from infections and parasites is a generous use of antibiotics and pesticides, which is performed on each single industrial farm (Economou, and Gousia 50). In addition, the U.S. officially allowed applying hormones to accelerate the “maturation” of meat, reduce fat content therein and provide the desired soft texture (Pollan 50; Economou and Gousia 50-51).
When talking about other types of livestock, the situation is the same. For example, pigs are kept in tight enclosures. In many factories, sows, waiting for litter, are placed in cages the size of which is 0,6 × 2 m (Bonne), where they cannot even turn around. What is more, after the birth of offspring, they are chained to the floor in a supine position. The calves intended being used for meat from birth are placed in small cages that restrict their movement, leading to muscle atrophy that makes the meat become of particularly tender texture (Pollan 64). With regard to hens, they are “sealed” in the multilevel cells so that they are virtually unable to move (Nagesh).
In Europe, animals’ position is somewhat better than in the U.S. For instance, it is forbidden to use hormones and certain antibiotics as well as tight cells for calves. The UK has refused to close the cells for sows, while in continental Europe, they were planning abandon tight cells use by 2013. Additionally, they discuss the adoption of the law to increase cell size for hens (Nagesh).
However, in the U.S. and Europe, the industrial production of meat (as well as milk and eggs) is built on the main and same principle that is to produce as many products as possible from each meter of the area with complete disregard for the terms of animal welfare. Under these conditions, the production is completely dependent on the “chemical crutch,” namely hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, among others (Economou, and Gousia 55). The reason is that all the ways to improve productivity and maintain animals in good health are unprofitable.
If hormones are used only outside the EU (at least legally), antibiotics are applied everywhere and not only to fight bacteria (Economou, and Gousia 49). Until recently, antibiotics were used widely in Europe to promote animal growth. However, since 1997, they began to be withdrawn from the use, and nowadays their utilization is prohibited in the EU (Nagesh). However, therapeutic antibiotics are still applied. They are used in high concentrations and large doses because among the considerable number of animals, a risk of the rapid spread of dangerous diseases is immensely high (Economou and Gousia 54). Antibiotics are entering the environment in the manure and other waste and create conditions for the emergence of mutant bacteria which are antibiotic-resistant (Economou and Gousia 54). There are several identified antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella that cause severe disease in humans, often with fatal consequences (Pollan 103).
It is believed that people themselves are to blame for such situation since the reduction in the demand will automatically lead to the increase in livestock treatment on industrial farms. The profits and advantages of vegetarianism are highlighted in many research works, especially those aimed at animal protection. Therefore, an option to solve the problem is to transform the humanity into vegetarians, which is impossible. The second solution may be the one that is discussed in Food.Inc, namely production of organic food. It is a good option in terms of saving the environment and improving the conditions in which the stock is grown. However, this option cannot provide the world with the sufficient amount of meat and products of animal origin. Therefore, this is simply a part of the solution. Third and the most appropriate option is the legal one on the example of the EU. The adoption of the law is a continuous process, but it may guarantee the improvement of the situation, as it already happened in the EU. Evidently, the process has only started, but the results are already promising.
In conclusion, it is obvious that there are several issues to be addressed in relation to livestock treatment, from the size of cages to the use of pharmaceuticals. It is impossible to decrease the demand for meat and animal products since it is inconceivable that all the people will become vegetarians. The world experience shows that there is a legal way of improvement. In the meantime, food animals continue to live in tight cages, while being overfed and dosed with antibiotics.
Bonne, Jon. “Can Animals You Eat Be Treated Humanely?” NBC News, 2014. Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.
The current source is a popular article handling the issue of unethical treatment of food animals. The author initially lists the current difficulties in the factory farming and then proposes several options to solve the problems. Additionally, the author investigates the current and previous legislative acts in favor of using chemicals or those that support animal safety. Despite being a popular article, it can be considered reliable since an author and publisher are known. This source is useful for the current research in terms of gathering general information on the food industry in the U.S.
Economou, Vangelis, and Panagiota Gousia. “Agriculture and Food Animals as a Source of Antimicrobial-Resistant Bacteria.” Infection and Drug Resistance, vol. 8, 2015, pp. 49-64.
The authors focus on one of the main issue connected with industrial farming, namely the usage of chemicals and medicines to enhance the animals’ health and, as a result, quality of the product. They investigate the trends of the utilization of pharmaceuticals in industrial farming and provide solid evidence against their use as well as their effect on human health and ecosystems. The paper is published in authoritative peer-reviewed journal; therefore, it is considered reliable. This source is valuable for the current study since the authors not simply list the chemicals means of animal treatment but analyze the trends of their use.
Food Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner. Perf. Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, and Richard Lobb. Magnolia Pictures, 2008. Film.
The film proposes a list of techniques and consequences of their use. It gives several examples of how unethical treatment of cattle affects animal and human health. The film provides the list of possible subjects to investigate. For the current study, it was used as a background and the source giving the choice of the research question.
Nagesh, Ashitha. “Vegans Need to Stop Comparing the Treatment of Animals to Slavery.” Independent.co.uk, 2015. . Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.
Nagesh focuses on animal breeding in the UK in comparison to the U.S. technologies of industrial farming. The title of the article says the central thought of the whole publication, namely the situation is not as “America alike” as it is thought to be. The article is published on a magazine website. However, it can be considered credible due to the publisher being a popular newspaperman and the author as well as the date and type of publication being possible to track. Therefore, the current study is useful since it compares the situation in Europe and the U.S. to show that there is a possibility to improve the existing situation.
Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Penguin, 2008.
The book provides a comprehensive analysis of the techniques used in industrial farming in comparison with ecological ones and provides the root causes for creation of such unbearable conditions for animals on farms. The value of this book lies in the fact that the author not only describes the case and consequences but also provides examples of the harm done to nature and people due to unethical animal treatment. This book, together with the documentary, is the central source for the given study since it provides the most comprehensive information on the topic.