George Monbiot Asked: Do you eat meat? Do you have any idea where it comes from? Having read this, will you change your decision?

Here are extracts from the article Monbiot is asking people to read; surprisingly one can observe a definite lean TOWARDS accepting MEGA FARMS (MF) and FACTORY FARMING (FF).

Throughout the authors have penned almost twice as many reasons and rationales FOR MF&FF than against, the following extracts are in ‘bold’ where they rationalise or defend MF&FF and non-bold-italics where they do not:

(Please note that the gravitas or weighting of the extracts has NOT been analysed, but IS also important)

Extracts:

…defenders say that the close controls on industrial-scale farms mean that disease, pollution and the carbon footprint can be kept to a minimum. Such farms also produce for consumers at a lower cost than small-scale farms.

Bringing animals off the land and cramming them into squalid, inhumane factory farms is not only cruel to animals but also has far-reaching effects on human health, wildlife and the planet. Moving animals away from the countryside into cages and crowded sheds may seem like a space-saving idea, but this ignores the fact that vast amounts of land are used elsewhere to grow feed for them.

…independent farming experts and industry organisations argue that intensive farming doesn’t hinder animal welfare, and provides cheaper food for consumers. Charles Godfray, director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, said it was not possible to judge the welfare of animals based on the size of farms. “It’s much more about how you do it,” he said. “There are intensive operations which are horrible, and others which are good examples of how to look after animals well and get good outcomes.”

…concerns raised by local residents, over smells, noise and the potential for pollution or disease outbreaks, and by animal welfare campaigners, who argue that factory-style farming in which livestock are rarely or never permitted outdoors prevents animals from expressing their natural behaviour. They also worry that mega farms are pushing smaller farmers out of business, leading to the takeover of the countryside by large agribusinesses, with the loss of traditional family-run units.

Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said birds reared on intensive farms enjoyed good standards. “These are high health and welfare farms. The husbandry of the birds is the crucial element here — I think people think of hens roaming around a farm, but that image is no longer the case. That’s not how chicken is farmed any more.”

She said animals are kept in “often barren, overcrowded and frequently filthy” conditions despite enough land available to keep them in a natural environment. “North Yorkshire has the highest number of indoor-reared pigs, with over 220,000 of them confined to the inside, unable to forage and explore. This is cruel and unnecessary when we can simply bring the animals outside and rear them on the land.”

He added that pressure from consumers meant it was impractical to keep birds in free range or organic conditions for general consumption. “Last year, we grew almost a billion birds, 95% indoors and 3.4% free range and 1% organic. If we tried to grow a billion birds a year organically, that would be a lot of land. It’s a balancing act, and it’s demand-driven. I don’t think we’ll see a change in systems without consumer demand. At the moment, that demand isn’t there.”

However, she added: “Generally, there is good evidence that very intensive forms of production do seriously constrain internally-motivated behaviours, particularly comfort movements such as stretching, grooming, netsing. That is either because not enough space is provided or insufficient resources are provided. Most animals need quiet resting areas separate from busy areas. These are not always provided, or are insufficient.

Christine Nicol, professor of veterinary science at the University of Bristol, said the size of a farm was less important than the way animals were looked after, as livestock on small farms could suffer from neglect or poor conditions, particularly in winter.

It is not necessarily the case that outdoor access is needed to allow these behaviours. Spacious, protected, semi-indoor areas with natural light can often be better as they allow for the important behaviours while keeping disease risks low.

Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association, said bigger farms allowed for better care of animals: “These larger units have more dedicated people — pig units will have specialist vets. There aren’t as many producers that farm pigs outdoors because there’s not a huge demand. The majority are trying to compete with everyone else and their European counterparts. There’s such intense competition.”

The original article can be seen here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/17/uk-has-nearly-800-livestock-mega-farms-investigation-reveals