Search icon

Studies Reveal Devastating Impact of Factory Farming

News Section Icon Published 1/17/2022

Deforestation Istock

Several new studies and investigations have just been published which demonstrate the clear link between environmental destruction and factory farming, reinforcing the argument for a big reduction in meat consumption and the need for rewilding programmes.

Pollution is a killer

A study published by the Chinese University of Hong Kong and reported in The Guardian revealed the impacts of increased meat production in China since the 1980s. It shows that the quadrupling of meat production between 1980 and 2010 led to an extra 66,000 deaths due to the air pollution caused by ammonia from animal waste and fertilisers used to grow crops for animal feed.

This makes it clear that a transition away from a meat-heavy diet in China would have a positive impact not only on animal welfare, but on the environment and human health too.

Uncommitted in the UK

The Guardian also reported a recent investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism showing that animal feed from a farm growing soybeans on deforested land in the Amazon is still being used in UK chicken farms - despite a pledge by the company concerned, Cargill, to cut its links to deforestation.

Deforestation is a major contributor to biodiversity loss, and it also releases huge amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere so intensifying climate change. We must continue to move away from this practice if we are to avert a climate catastrophe.

Promising papers

A paper published in Nature Food - ‘Dietary change in high-income nations alone can lead to substantial double climate dividend’ - shows that a shift from animal-based to plant-based diets in high-income countries along with land restoration such as rewilding, could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and increase the storing of carbon in soils, plants and trees.

Another paper - ‘The global and regional costs of healthy and sustainable dietary patterns: a modelling study’ - published in The Lancet stressed the importance of adopting ‘healthy and sustainable diets’ in order to ‘safeguard the Earth’s natural resources’. It also revealed that diets that fall into this category, such as those lower in animal-based foods, cost 22-34% less in high-income and upper-middle-income countries than current diets.

"The science is clear," says Peter Stevenson, our Chief Policy Advisor. “Factory farming has an undeniable, devastating impact on the environment, and urgent action is needed to reduce meat consumption and support nature through agro-ecology, regenerative agriculture, rewilding and other programmes to save our ailing planet.”

Find out more about the negative impact of factory farming here.

Globe