The farm animal industry has got to change, according to the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production.
The Commission, which began its research in 2006 and consisted of 15 experts in public policy, veterinary medicine, public health, agriculture, animal welfare and rural society, released a report detailing the impact of intensive food animal production (IFAP) on humans, animals and the environment.
The report details how animal agriculture has grown at warp speed over the past 50 years thanks to cheap feed, water and energy, according to the Environment News Service. As a result, Americans eat more meat per person than any other society on the planet. The report suggests that the industry will have to change as these resources become less available.
The commission is quoted in the article: "Our diminishing land capacity for producing food animals, combined with dwindling freshwater supplies, escalating energy costs, nutrient overloading of soil, and increased antibiotic resistance, will result in a crisis unless new laws and regulations go into effect in a timely fashion. This process must begin immediately and be fully implemented within 10 years."
Certainly the current food crisis exemplifies what can happen with confined resources and lower crop yields.
The commission made several recommendations including putting state environmental protection agencies in charge of regulating IFAP waste. According to the article, the group also recommended the creation of a Food Safety Administration that combines the food inspection and safety responsibilities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration, (FDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies into one agency to improve the safety of the U.S. food supply.
The article also mentions that consumers are worried about the safety of the food supply, due to the inhumane treatment of animals that takes place at factory farms. The report recommends that common inhumane practices such as the use of restrictive veal crates, hog gestation pens, restrictive farrowing crates, and battery cages for poultry be stopped.
In addition, the commission suggests that the use of antibiotics in feed should be restricted due to the risk of creating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
And you thought you were just eating meat.
These recommendations were released at the same time that Trust for America's Health issued a report on the current system that guarantees the safety of food in the United States. The report suggested the system is in a state of crisis, and gaps in the system include out-of-date laws, poor use of resources and inconsistencies among agencies protecting food safety, according to the Washington Post.
Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, is quoted in the article: "One in four Americans are sickened by food-borne illness each year, that's 76 million people. That number is far too high, and major gaps in our nation's food safety system are to blame."
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