Industrial/Factory Farming: Affecting our Health

Suckling Calf Industrial Farming
Suckling Calf - photo credit Jenny Dowling (Flikr)

Animal exploitation such as industrial/factory farming is affecting our health. According to Farm Sanctuary, unnatural feeds, hormones, and excessive quantities of antibiotics used on factory farms put the human population at risk of chronic disease, obesity, and drug-resistant bacteria, and pose the threat of major zoonotic disease outbreaks.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, animal products are the primary source of saturated fat in the American diet. Saturated fat has been linked to heart disease and obesity. Studies have shown that the unnatural feeds used to promote growth in animals on factory farms increase the saturated fat content of meat.

Suckling Calf Industrial Farming
Suckling Calf – photo credit Jenny Dowling (Flikr)


Cows in the dairy industry can be given growth hormones in order to increase their milk production. Once their productivity declines, these cows are slaughtered for beef. The six growth hormones commonly used by the U.S. dairy industry have been shown to significantly increase the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in beef consumers. Producers are not required to list the use of hormones on product labels.

Cancer related to Industrial Farming
Scrabble spelling cancer – photo credit – Steve Davis (Flikr)


According to Farm Sanctuary research, since the 1950s, antibiotics have been used on factory farms to increase the rate of growth in animals. Today, an estimated 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are given to farm animals for non-therapeutic purposes. Using antibiotics in this way can lead to drug-resistant bacteria. As a result, certain bacterial infections have already become, or are on their way to becoming untreatable in humans. Antibiotic resistant infections kill 90,000 Americans every year.


Poor sanitation and waste management on factory farms and the poor management of animal waste can lead to the contamination of the food supply by bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella. According to Farm Sanctuary’s research, each year 76 million Americans become ill from food borne illnesses, and thousands die.

Industrial Farming Cattle
Industrial Farming Cattle – Photo Credit Oikeutta Vasikkakasvattamo (Flikr)


Some diseases, like H1N1 (Swine Flu) and Avian Flu, are communicable from animals to humans. These “zoonotic” diseases have the potential to become pandemics. Experts believe that the outbreak of H1N1 was likely caused by the overcrowding of pigs on factory farms and the storage of their waste in giant manure lagoons.

For more information on the health risks for humans living near and working on factory farms, visit Factory Farming and Rural Communities


At present I am carrying out some qualitative research for my undergraduate thesis regarding Animal Exploitation and the effects of factory/industrial farming on our health and our environment. I am eager to obtain your views, particularly as to whether this has influenced your diet in any way.

I would be grateful if you could take the time to partake in my research and engage in the survey below so that I can acquire more qualitative research in this area. Thanking you all in advance. Lara Lewis.

Please click on link to partake in this research.




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