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We often hear controversy and discussions around this issue and in order to take your position on it without being influenced too much by those who make the big voice on both sides, it is necessary to understand what does intensive farming mean. This practice has consequences at various levels, environmental but also economic, as well as moral, and we will also analyze those for a conscious stance.
What does intensive farming mean
Called intensive or even industrial, this type of breeding which in English takes the name of factory farming, employs aims for maximum productivity. What does it mean? Let's put ourselves in an entrepreneurial perspective: maximum quantity of product with minimum cost and using the minimum space. To do this, it uses both industrial and scientific techniques and usually involves the use of special machinery and veterinary drugs.
In most developed countries this is the way in which animals are raised from which meat, eggs and dairy products are then obtained which are then spread through the large distribution and not only. There are alternatives, but they are not always competitive if you go to evaluate the quality / price ratio. To get a better idea of what happens in intensive farming, let's see the typical characteristics of this type of activity.
In most cases the spaces where animals live together they are very small and are piled up in large numbers, so less space is wasted and it is also easier and more comfortable to feed them. To keep the animals and their state of health under control, frequent checks are carried out and drugs are also used, and nutrition is also monitored depending on the final product to be obtained.
Origins of intensive farming
This way of raising animals has recently spread, in the twentieth century, even if it is for millennia that man has been a shepherd and a breeder. In Italy, especially in the post-war period, this practice began to be implemented, also for the boom in requests for meat, eggs and dairy products and products of animal origin that in those years, with the country in recovery, had been registered. It seemed the only way to make those products accessible to everyone and not just an elite.
Over time, this practice has also changed because civil society has made observations on the matter the protection of animals, hygiene and product quality. Intensive post-war farming is certainly not comparable with one of those that can be seen active today in countries like Italy, but there are very different situations in the world. Surely the European regulations introduced starting in the 90s have made our continent one of the most virtuous because they explicitly banned many practices still widely used in the United States.
Intensive farming: opinions
Today more than ever, also because the practices that are implemented in these farms are better known, there are many criticisms against this way of treating animals, both ethical and environmental and in terms of hygiene and health.
The world of animal rights activists focuses above all on respect for animal welfare that would not be particularly respected and, indeed, would be subjected to practices that at times in some countries have even become illegal. There is talk of amputations, constriction in microscopic spaces so as to cause muscle atrophy, life in the dark 24 hours a day.
There are also criticisms relating to health, this time from those who eat the products thus obtained, and hygiene in general. On the one hand, the industrialized context should guarantee a higher degree of hygiene than the more peasant ones, but the use of drugs is very perplexing. There are those who believe that this can lead to the spread of new forms of bacteria resistant to these medicines. There are also those who argue that, beyond drugs and diseases, there is also a strong difference in the quality of meat when it comes toindustrial farming, which in the long run can cause health problems to those who consume a lot. This would be explained by the fact that animals eat differently, and very often unhealthy flours, and stay in very limited environments.
We come to the environmental impact that this type of farming has on a global level. These sites produce a huge amount of chemical and animal waste which are then concentrated in areas of limited extension. In these situations there is always the risk of contaminating the groundwater, creating dust, causing insects to run and producing bad smells in the surrounding area. In addition, to support such a farm, many resources are needed that are "stolen" from the territory, this alarm mainly concerns water. Intensive farming can also aggravate the situation of global warming and deforestation because it is necessary to make room for monocultures of feed.
Even in the economy we can see the effects of this type of practice, especially in those of developing countries. Here we risk the disappearance oftraditional breeding and therefore an employment problem
Intensive farming in Europe
Over the years Europe has intervened several times to try to limit the harmful consequences of this type of farming. He gave relative indications the level of hygiene and nutrition on farms and has regulated the use of drugs, including antibiotics that can only be used in the case of animal disease, and hormones, which are prohibited.
Corporate wastewater is also a very important aspect to take into account because it is difficult to manage at an environmental level and can create real disasters. There are today in Europe very strict rules in this regard, for example for nitrates.
Also for the welfare of the animals, it has been busy putting various stakes on the practices that can or cannot be carried out and eliminating those considered cruel. If you are interested in this type of topic I recommend a book written by a very good writer who has chosen to take a stand on the topic. Is titled "We can save the world before dinner."