In 2008, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) released a landmark report on how to begin reversing damage caused by industrial food animal production on the public health, environment, animal welfare, and rural community problems. Now, five years later, analysis by Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future (CLF) finds that the progress made has been next to nothing.
According to a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health press release, the initial report contained recommendations related to the confinement of animals, overuse of antibiotics, dealing with waste from industrial farms, and phasing out anti-trust laws to level the playing field for farmers.
Robert S. Lawrence, MD, director of the CLF said, “There has been an appalling lack of progress. The failure to act by the USDA and FDA, the lack of action or concern by the Congress, and continued intransigence of the animal agriculture industry have made all of our problems worse.”
Governor John Carlin, chair of The Pew Commission, added, “If the last five years has shown us anything, it is that the public is more engaged than ever in the food system … The results of this analysis show that our policymakers are really not listening to their constituents.”
The largest public health risk is the use of antibiotics, which is linked to a rise in superbugs (possibly making antibiotics ineffective) demonstrated by the recent string of antibiotic-resistant salmonella. We’ve also seen how industrial farming creates massive pools of waste, infecting the earth’s surface.
Industrial agriculture may be able to turn a blind eye to the current situation, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should, or will.
Eating a plant-based diet can bypass a lot of what’s wrong with our current food system. Try eating vegan before six, (you could even check out the book) or take the total veggie-plunge, and take some time to learn about where your food is coming from. Yes, it may be a little more work, but swap out an activity (perhaps 20 minutes of Facebook or 15 minutes of shopping for a latte) and get in touch with your inner foodie.
Eating is something we do every day, and we buy massive amounts of food per year. Make your purchases count, for you, the animals, and the environment.
Image Source: Jo-Anne McArthur