Public Health

Key Facts

Industrial farming harms public health by:

  • Producing excessive animal waste and harmful agricultural runoff that degrades air, water and soil quality.
  • Producing and widely distributing inexpensive low-nutrient foods, reducing the availability of more sustainable options and contributing to poor nutrition among disadvantaged populations.
  • Using large quantities of fertilizers and pesticides that are dangerous to the health of the farmers and farm workers who apply them to the fields.

Why It Matters

The way our food is produced poses an acute risk to public health on multiple fronts. Overcrowding on factory farms, where cattle, pigs and chickens are raised; the ammonia-filled hen houses where our eggs are produced by the tens of thousands; the monocropped fields of corn, soy and produce that rely heavily on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides – these intensive agricultural practices have implications for our health.

Some of these public health threats are a result of environmental degradation to our air, water and soil quality from animal waste and agricultural runoff. Some threats are because the industrial model of farming provides an excess of inexpensive, low nutrient food.

For the farm and factory laborers who maintain these large-scale farms, there is increased risk of respiratory problems, workplace injuries and certain cancers. And there is grave concern that the overuse of antibiotics on farms has increased the threat of antibiotic resistance and infectious disease transmission.

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