Over 4,000 cases of the swine flu virus throughout 29 countries have now been confirmed, with a third fatality confirmed in the United States. Scientists point out that the risks for new flu viruses such as this new H1N1 virus are unduly increased by the conditions of factory farms. What's more, attempts to raise animals in such confined populations poses additional health threats to region. Supreme Master Television spoke with Ms. Elanor Starmer from the consumer organization Food and Water Watch to learn more about how factory farms impact the health of communities nearby.
Supreme Master TV(F): Can you tell or describe for us how factory pig farms affect the environment?
Elanor Starmer - Agricultural policy communications consultant, Food and Water, USA, Vegetarian (F): Factory pig farms have a huge effect on the environment, mainly because of the incredible amount of waste that they produce. Factory farms in the United States produce about 3 times the volume of waste that the humans living in the United States produce. Unlike human waste it doesn’t have to be treated in the same way. The waste from all those animals, and we’re talking thousands of hogs in a single facility, is collected in what’s called the lagoon, basically a big open pit outside. And it can sit there for quite a long time, at which point it can begin to leach into the groundwater that’s underneath the lagoon. At some point often the producers will take some of that manure out because otherwise it would overflow, and they will spread it around on the land surrounding the facility. So communities living near these hog operations have seen groundwater contamination, surface water contamination that kills fish, and then air quality problems like odor and things that will make you nauseous and just making you not want to be outside.
It’s not just a bad smell, the reason that things smell bad to us is because they’re not good for us. So we’re talking about toxic gases that people are inhaling on a consistent basis.
VOICE: Knowing that food-borne illnesses such as Salmonella and E. Coli originate entirely from animal sources, it is perhaps no surprise to find this contamination linked to factory farms.
Supreme Master TV(F): Could you tell us more like about what it does to the water?
Elanor Starmer (F): Well when the manure gets into water, if it seeps into the groundwater or it runs off into a stream, essentially, it’s feces in your water. So all of the toxins and the pathogens and the bacteria that these animals are carrying and shedding their manure, including things like antibiotics that are fed to animals - this is very common practice on factory farms, those all come out in manure and then it gets into the water.
VOICE: Our sincere thanks Ms. Starmer and Food and Water Watch for raising awareness on the dangers of factory farm pollution to communities’ air, water and food supplies. We sorrow for the increasing toll of the swine flu on precious lives and pray that more people awaken to the link between food choices and health by adopting the plant-based diet to ensure both safety and quality of life.