Shooting Ourselves in the FootEnvironmental Violence from Agriculture - The Attack of the Flies
A Shooting Ourselves in the Foot: The Sanitizing of Violence in Our Society Article from

Throughout the ages, we have accepted killing, violence, and violent behavior as just being a part of life - it's time we change!

By: Frank L. Hoffman

In the latter part of spring in the year 2000, a farmer named Mark Adams spread approximately 200 tons of manure from his 100,000-hen egg farm on about 18 acres of his land and plowed it in as he had done for many years. However, this year, something different happened - a tremendous number of flies bred in the manure. The reason is unknown, but it is likely that the fly eggs were either were in the manure before spreading it on the field or perhaps it was not plowed in deep enough, or the wet spring may have contributed is some way. Whatever the reason, the results were the same. The whole community around this farm in Naples, New York was attacked by swarms of flies.

The flies were so thick that they crawled into every crevice of peoples homes and cars, so that they could not live as usual. The news reports made it seem like the plague upon Egypt during the time of the Exodus (Exodus 8:24):

24 And the LORD did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh's palace and into the houses of his officials, and throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies. (NIV)

A local health official declared that the situation was a health hazard to the 1,200 residents of Naples, some of whom had to move out because of the problem, with others spraying insecticide to try to eliminate the attack of the flies. Not only did the flies present a health problem, but so does the use of insecticide, particularly in the quantities needed to over-come these swarms of flies.

Animal agriculture has become so sanitized in our minds that we seldom recognize the violence connected with it. For Mark Adams to have a farm with 100,000 hens means that during the time that these hens were being hatched another 100,000 male chickens were also being hatched and killed (based upon an egg-sex population of 50% males and 50% females), and after these hens are about two years of age, they too will be killed. During this period of time, these hens will suffer under conditions that the Lord never intended for these living souls. And because of this sanitized violence to the chickens, we have experienced violence being done to our environment, and primarily to the people surrounding this farm.

I personally don't believe that Mark Adams intentionally set out to cause this environmental mini-disaster, but the very nature of this violent business contains the ingredients for such disasters. We seek to cure the symptoms and not eliminate the cause, and as a result we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by sanitizing violence in our society. 

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