Health Hotline Magazine | April 2023
three and 20 times more waste than all of the people in the U.S., with no sewage treatment required. This waste contains pathogens and antibiotics that can contaminate water supplies and high levels of phosphorous and nitrogen that lead to destructive algae blooms in local waterways, while the fumes and particulate matter increase the rates of asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory illnesses among workers and people who live nearby. And while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is supposed to regulate CAFOs under the CleanWater Act, it has admitted that “…unlike many other point source industries, the EPA does not have facility specific information for all CAFOs in the United States.” In an effort to shed some light on the lack of information, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed requests for EPA records under the Freedom of Information Act to see exactly what information federal regulators had on existing CAFOs. What they found was alarming: While the EPA estimated in 2012 that there were 17,329 CAFOs operating in the U.S., there was data (including information on the size, type, location, and pollution control measures) on only 7,595 of them. When it came to information on waste management, the NRDC found information for only 5.6 percent of the EPA’s estimated number of CAFOs. Even more alarming is that after the EPA released records to the NRDC, industry interests filed a lawsuit to prohibit the EPA from releasing information in response to future Freedom of Information Act requests. In 2017, the EPA signed a settlement agreement with industry groups “severely limiting the scope of any future information releases.” In addition to oligarch level of control and lack of oversight, CAFOs are a leading cause of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Animals raised in unhealthy, cramped environments are susceptible to disease outbreaks, so they are regularly dosed with low levels of antibiotics in an effort to keep disease at bay; this prophylactic, sub-therapeutic use causes bacteria to evolve to become resistant to common antibiotics used in human medicine. CAFOs are also inherently linked to the over-production of genetically modified commodity crops like corn and soy, which require massive amounts of pesticides and fertilizers. A report released in 2022 by the Center for Biological Diversity and World Animal Protection revealed that more than 235 million pounds of herbicides and insecticides were used on corn and soybeans grown to feed animals in CAFOs in 2018 (the most recent year for which data was available). And finally, we can all agree that animals raised in this way live abysmal lives. This way of producing food isn’t just unsustainable, it is degenerative.
A Better Future with Regenerative Agriculture A recent national survey of registered voters conducted by Johns Hopkins found that there “was significant concern with the negative health and environmental impacts caused by CAFOs, as well as support for greater government oversight.” We want better—for the animals, for the environment, for farmworkers, and for our health. The answer lies in regenerative agriculture, which views the system as an interconnected whole—the soil, water, air, animals, people, and community. Animal and land relationships are a foundational philosophy of regenerative agriculture— when farm animals are returned to the land, they build healthy and resilient soil, which is capable of capturing CO2, removing it from the atmosphere, and improving water retention, critical in the face of climate disasters like drought and flooding. It eliminates the need for synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. And because animal health and welfare are prioritized, it also reduces the use of antibiotics by eliminating the subtherapeutic use of them, using them only if an animal is ill and actually needs them. The benefits are bountiful and include ecological benefits, economic benefits, and health benefits for farmworkers and local communities. THIS is the future of food, for a healthy planet and healthy people. Make eating a revolutionary act. Choose your meat, dairy, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and other foods carefully. Eat consciously. Eat like a regenivore. For references email email@example.com Editor’s note: While the focus of this article is on animal products, they are but one part of the picture. It is also crucially important to support organic and regenerative practices when it comes to fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods. For a deeper dive into regenerative agriculture and what it means to “eat like a regenivore,” check out “Introducing Regenivore” on page 54.
Terms and conditions apply. See page 2 for details. *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. * t t t t l t t r i i tr ti . i r t i t i t t i , tr t, r r r t i .
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