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July 11, 2011

From Production to Consumption: The Impacts of Factory Farming In Brazil

Humane Society International workshop in Sao Paulo raises awareness about the impacts of intensive farm animal production on the environment, animal welfare and human communities throughout Brazil

Humane Society International

The many ethical concerns surrounding intensive farm animal production, or factory farming, were examined at a recent Humane Society International workshop in São Paulo.

Approximately 100 participants came together on June 21 and 28 to hear experts discuss the impacts of intensive farm animal production on the environment, animal welfare, human health and economic justice.  Researcher Sergio Schlesinger highlighted the link between the intensification of animal agriculture and shrinking employment opportunities, while biologist and former slaughterhouse employee Rivea Borges discussed some of the worker safety and labor problems inherent in factory farming. Veterinarian Wilson Grassi explained how intensive farm animal production methods can also jeopardize human health by facilitating the emergence of dangerous strains of zoonotic diseases, including avian influenza.

Guilherme Carvalho, HSI's campaign manager in Brazil, spoke about the impacts of factory farming an animal welfare, and described the routine cruelty to which laying hens and breeding sows are subjected on factory farms. The majority of egg-laying hens in Brazil are nearly immobilized in battery cages, and most pregnant sows spend their entire 114-day pregnancies confined in gestation crates that prevent them from walking or even turning around. Carvalho encouraged more conscientious consumption and emphasized that, “just like cats and dogs, farm animals can suffer and deserve our respect. By both switching to higher welfare products, such as cage-free eggs and crate-free pork and reducing our consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy, each of us can help animals and the environment.”

The known impacts of factory farming on the environment, human communities and animal welfare have already led many in Brazil and around the world to adopt vegetarian, vegan and "flexitarian" lifestyles. Nutrition expert Eric Slywitch, M.D., discussed the benefits of reducing meat consumption, stating that “scientific evidence shows that meat-centric diets increase the risk of the most significant non-transmittable chronic diseases, such as some cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.” The doctor  challenged participants interested in reducing their meat intake to join the "Meatless Monday" campaign, a global movement asking people to go meat-free at least once a week.

HSI has held similar workshops on the impacts of factory farming in Rio de Janeiro and Recife, to raise awareness about the economic, social, environmental, human health and animal welfare problems resulting from factory faming, both at a national and global level, and to discuss collective efforts to address this issue in Brazil.

Learn more about HSI’s work in Brazil and around the world by visiting hsi.org.

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Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org.

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