July 1, 2009
Help Farm Animals in India
Rapidly increasing egg and meat consumption in India has led to the expansion of industrial animal production facilities, or factory farms. A typical egg or chicken meat factory farm houses thousands of birds in a single shed. Several sheds may be located on a small piece of property. Thus, huge numbers of animals are packed into very small parcels of land to accommodate India’s growing consumption of animal products.
Nearly 200 million egg-laying hens on factory farms in India are confined to tiny battery cages so restrictive they can’t fully spread their wings. With no opportunity to walk, nest, dust bathe, perch, forage, or exhibit most other natural behaviors, these birds endure lives wrought with suffering. Billions of broiler chickens, though not confined in cages, also experience crowded confinement, poor air quality, and stressful handling and transportation.
Waste from factory farms pollutes the water, air, and soil. It harms wildlife habitat and contributes significantly to the climate crisis. The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization and the American Public Health Association have identified factory farming as a serious threat to the environment and public health.
Public health threats
Factory farms jeopardize the health of farm workers and neighboring human communities. Their crowded, stressful, and unsanitary conditions foster the development of diseases that could affect humans, including bird flu. The animals become more susceptible to infections, which can be passed on to humans via eggs. Routine, non-therapeutic use of antibiotics [PDF] in industrial egg and chicken meat production has led to the emergence of resistant strains of Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. Furthermore, instead of feeding the rural poor, an increasing amount of factory farmed eggs and meat are being channeled into the fast-food and processed food industries. These very foods are contributing to a growing epidemic of obesity and other diet-related illnesses amongst India’s middle- and upper-class urban consumers.