Big Ag Destroys Family Farms and Quality Food
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In North Dakota, a 1932 state law banning non-family corporations from owning farmland or operating farms has been challenged by Big Ag lobbyists, calling the law discriminatory and unconstitutional.
In March 2015, the ND Legislature passed a bill that would relax the corporate farming ban.
The debate is focused on maintaining the character of North Dakota, it also taps into fears about the disappearance of family farms throughout the United States and the spread of big corporations and their farming methods into rural America.
The fears are well-founded.
Farmers are not the only ones who should be concerned about Big Ag taking over. This is an issue that affects every single person who likes to eat Real food.
Monoculture and livestock CAFOs do not make food tastier more nutritious or safer.
Just the opposite.
Factory farms are know for producing inferior quality food that is more prone to cause foodborne outbreaks and spread pandemic diseases among farm animals and in some cases among humans as well.
Human life is related to the environment, and most epidemics, such as Ebola, West Nile, SARS, and Lyme disease, just to name a few, are a result of man’s failure to live in harmony with Nature according to the experts.
And us humans by disrupting our environment, create our demise.
Food scientists have shown that CAFO’s create a negative feedback loop where safety hazards are compounded and spread, thus affecting animals, humans and the environment.
The massive number of animals in confined spaces is a multiplier for disease, and CAFOs are notorious for spreading pandemic diseases and causing serious food outbreaks
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) foodborne diseases cause about 76-M illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the US each year, costing the health care system as much as $6-B in direct medical expenses and lost productivity.
Bacteria account for 75% of the outbreaks, with Salmonella being the most common.
During the n the past 20 yrs, a number of previously unrecognized foodborne pathogens have emerged, including:
- Campylobacter jejuni (poultry products)
- Listeria monocytogenes (dairy products)
- Clostridium botulinum
- Escherichia coli 0157:H7 (ground beef)
- Bacillus cereus
- Clostridium perfringens (beef)
- Staphylococcus aureus (pork)
Experts advise that no telling what the death toll could be should many or all of these foodborne pathogens develop antibiotic resistance.
Part of what’s causing foodborne illness rates to rise relates to the centralization of meat processing, coupled with outdated slaughterhouse inspection rules.
Since Y 1906, meat inspection has relied on noticing changes in the sight, smell, or feel of the meat. But foodborne microorganisms cannot be detected this way.
The FDA’s Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point program (HACCP) was created to identify areas in the food processing chain where contamination might take place, and based on its findings, procedures such as using microbiological tests at Key control points have been developed. But, the program is useless unless microbial control is mandated.
Cross-contamination is another serious problem largely relegated to factory farms, processing monopolies, and industrial food processing plants.
Recently, Listeria-contaminated sunflower seeds led to the recall of about 100 different food products, including more than 33,600 lbs of Trader Joe’s’ Broccoli and Kale chicken salad.
So, if you as a consumer are concerned about food safety, the most effective strategy is to support your local farmers by buying their food and cooking from scratch, rather than buying processed fare and foods imported from all over the planet.
GRAIN an international non-profit organization that supports small farmers and social movements around the world, has documented more than 490 cases of corporate land grabs over the past 10 years. These deals cover more than 74-M acres in 78 countries.
According to GRAIN: “While some of the worst land grabs have been shelved or toned down, a number of new deals are appearing, many of which are ‘hard-core’ initiatives to expand the frontiers of industrial agriculture. We say hard-core because these deals are large, long-term and determined to avoid the pitfalls that earlier deals ran into.
Much of the Asian-led oil palm expansion in Africa, and the advance of pension funds and trade conglomerates to secure access to new farmlands, fall into this category.
Increasingly, gaining access to farmland is part of a broader corporate strategy to profit from carbon markets, mineral resources, water resources, seeds, soil and environmental services. As land deals rise and fall, policymakers and corporate boards are hard at work trying to facilitate their success.
Instead of the wild land rush of before, we now have multiple ‘frameworks’ and ‘guidelines’ on how to conduct these deals while minimizing social and environmental costs. All of these new rules are voluntary, however, and do more to obfuscate the problem than to solve it.
Many argue that the heightened political attention around land grabbing has helped bring land and agrarian reform back into public debates in parliaments and other legislative fora. But the main objective of regulatory processes is still to formalize land markets and titles, which experience tells us will lead to further concentration of land in the hands of few.”
Today, Big Ag is one of the worst polluters of all industries, contaminating not only soil, but air and water too.
For example, according to a report by Environment America Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) is the worst polluter of U.S. waterways, releasing 104.4-M lbs of toxic pollutants into waterways between Y’s 2010 and 2014, 2nd only to a steel manufacturing company.
In 2rd place, we have the US Department of Defense, followed by Cargill (NYSE:CAG) and another steel manufacturer.
Of the Top 15 polluters on this list, 6 are food companies, commingling with some of the largest chemical producers in the world, including DuPont (NYSE:DD), and BASF (OTCMKT:BASFY).
International Paper (NYSE:IP), and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) are ranked No. 14 and 15 respectively, releasing less than 20% of Tyson’s toxic emissions into US waterways.
Notably, farms are exempt from federal water-pollution regulation.
This is despite agriculture being the primary reason why America’s waterways fail to meet Clean Water Act standards.
Big Ag is also responsible for nearly 20% of the entire US carbon footprint, and that does not include all of the fuel, transport emissions and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use.
A Y 2009 article also pointed out that The Pew Charitable Trust and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study in Y 2008 and determined that the US factory farming system is dangerously out of control and that many practices, including animal confinement, and the prophylactic-use of antibiotics and hormones must be phased out. A 2nd study, also in April 2008, by the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded much the same.
Both studies found that the current factory farming paradigms are simply not sustainable for the land, the drinking water, the confined animals, the rivers, and the oceans, and they are seriously damaging our public health.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reminds us that we will be subsidizing these bad farming practices each April 15th when citizens pay their taxes.
Big Ag spend hundreds of millions of dollars a annually to keep consumers in the dark not only about CAFOs, but also about whether or not your food contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and about the country-of-origin of our food.
The healthiest option is to buy fresh Organic produce, pastured eggs, raw Organic dairy and grass-fed meats from a local farm or farmers market.
There are positive signs that people are taking such advice to heart.
According to the recent data the total number of farmers in the US has begun to rise for the 1st time since the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) began keeping track.
Most of these farmers are younger people who have embraced the notion of growing Real, Organic healthy food.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively