Industrial Pig Farming
The December 2006 edition of Rolling Stone magazine includes an outstanding
article entitled "Boss Hog" with the sub-heading "America's top pork
producer churns out a sea of waste that has destroyed rivers, killed
millions of fish and generated one of the largest fines in EPA history.
Welcome to the dark side of the other white meat."
An accompanying photo shows a large pile of pig carcasses with the
caption, "Pork producers generate millions of tons of hog waste each
year including millions of dead pigs."
Here are some excerpts:
"Smithfield Foods, the largest and most profitable pig processor in
the world, killed 27 million hogs last year."
"Smithfield's pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in
warehouse-like barns, in rows of wall-to-wall pens. Sows are
artificially inseminated and fed and delivered of their piglets in cages
so small they cannot turn around. Forty full grown 250-pound male hogs
often occupy a pen the size of a tiny apartment. They trample each other
to death. There is no sunlight, straw, fresh air or earth. The floors
are slatted to allow excrement to fall into a catchment pit under the
"The temperature inside hog houses is often hotter than ninety
degrees. The air, saturated almost to the point of precipitation with
gases from shit and chemicals, can be lethal to the pigs. Enormous
exhaust fans run 24 hours a day... If they break down for any length of
time, pigs start dying...”
"Taken together, the immobility, poisonous air and terror of
confinement badly damage the pigs' immune systems. They become
susceptible to infection..."
"Studies have shown that lagoons emit hundreds of different volatile
gases into the atmosphere, including ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide
and hydrogen sulfide. A single lagoon releases many millions of bacteria
into the air per day, some resistant to human antibiotics."
With an environmentalist, the writer flies over the Smithfield area
and sees "several farmers spray their hog shit straight up into the air
as a fine mist." "It looks like a public fountain. Lofted and atomized
the shit is blown clear of the company's property. People who breathe
the shit-infused air suffer from bronchitis, asthma, heart palpitations,
headaches, diarrhea, nosebleeds and brain damage."
In a span of four years, Smithfield's lagoons have spilled: "2
million gallons of shit into Cape Fear River, 1.5 million gallons into
its Persimmon branch, one million gallons into the Trent River, and
200,000 gallons into Turkey Creek."
"The biggest spill in the history of corporate hog farming happened
in 1995. The dike of a 120,000 square foot lagoon owned by a Smithfield
competitor ruptured, releasing 25.8 million gallons of effluvium into
the headwaters of the New River in North Carolina. It was the biggest
environmental spill in United States history, more than twice as big as
the Exxon Valdez oil spill six years earlier. The sludge was so toxic,
it burned your skin if you touched it, and so dense it took almost two
months to make its way sixteen miles downstream to the ocean. From the
headwaters to the sea, every creature living in the river was killed.
Fish died by the millions."
Your question and comments are welcome