Factory Farms and the End of Fish

Past posts have covered one (of the many) major problems with factory farming; the runoff of animal waste into our groundwater and streams. Because most factory farmed animals are regularly given antibiotics to prevent infection caused by being raised in cramped and filthy conditions, the animal waste naturally contains antibiotic residue, not to mention other residues from growth hormones. When these residues find their way into the water supply, the results can be disastrous.

As reported in Mother Jones, “A team of scientists from Purdue and the Environmental Protection Agency looked at fish populations in Indiana streams downstream from CAFOs, or confined-animal feedlot operations. Their findings, released this month, are sobering. In CAFO-tainted water, 60 percent of minnows turned out male. In the non-contaminated water, the male ratio was 48 percent. The CAFO-exposed water also showed lower species biodiversity, and the fish in them had reduced fertility.”

If the trend continues, and the minnow populations are wiped out because there are no breeding mates, other animals that are dependent upon minnows as a food source, such as fish, crayfish, small mammals and some bird, will have to look elsewhere for food, and this means they will be competing against other species whose food source will now be threatened.

Despite the findings, don’t expect much from the EPA, which has traditionally kowtowed to the factory farm corporate giants. Like the proverbial closing the barn door after the fire, by the time the EPA acts it will probably be too late. Our government may be unable to help, but you can, simply by not buying animal products raised in factory farms. Purchase only from local producers who raise their animals in a natural environment and have humane slaughter practices. While far from being comprehensive, we do list a few sources on our “If You Must Eat Meat” tab.

But better yet, why not give up eating animals altogether? You’ll be healthier, animals lives will be spared, and we just might be able to undo some of the damage to our lakes and streams.

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