When Clean Water is a Terrorist Threat

Recently the Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to strengthen laws that would protect our ground water. Because factory farming is considered an “agriculture” and not industrial operation, confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) owners can skirt many of the environmental laws that regulate industry pollution standards. CAFOs create huge amounts of animal waste that cannot be absorbed in the soil, as would be the case on a real farm, and so waste is either collected in large lagoons or gets sprayed on crops. The problem is lagoons leak, rupture or overflow during heavy storms and CAFO operators often overspray (apply too much) animal waste locally because it costs less than transporting it to another location.

CAFO operators routinely use antibiotics in animal food, as well as give animals preventative injections of antibiotics to both make the animals grow fatter for slaughter and reduce the risk of infections that can run rampant when so many animals are densely packed together on factory farms. But those antibiotics find their way into out water supply. Samplings of rivers and streams shows 50% of our waterways contain traces of antibiotics that come directly from animal waste.

So where’s the terrorist threat? CAFO owners are upset because proposed rules would require they report exactly where they are storing all that waste. Are they concerned that a terrorist knowing the latitude and longitude of a manure lagoon could launch missiles and splatter the waste all over the place? Why bother when CAFO operators are already doing that, often clandestinely. No, the threat seems to be that if organizations that are against animal abuse and cruelty know where the farms are located they might sneak in and videotape the abuse that takes place. Exposing farm animal abuse is, believe it or not, considered terrorism in a number of states, thanks to well paid lobbyists who somehow convinced lawmakers that animal rights groups are a bigger threat to U.S. security than extremists groups that want to kill people, not animals.

The tragedy of factory farms is in part possible because the animals are hidden away from public view. Out of sight; out of mind, and the industry wants to keep it that way. Sir Paul McCartney once said that if factory farms had glass walls the farms would no longer exist because the public would see firsthand the horror that goes on inside. It would seem to me that owners who care nothing about animals or about protecting our environment are a bigger terrorist threat than activists who want to expose the abuses.


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