Billions of dollars have been invested into food science and technology in order to create and maintain a supply system that provides us food in astounding quantities… Within an unnatural time-frame.
Perhaps you’ve wondered what it took for your groceries to reach your home, but have you ever understood the true cost?
The unfortunate reality is, industrial agriculture is destroying the planet, and a global food crisis is not far off unless we make some dramatic changes, starting NOW.
These are 5 of the biggest ways industrial agriculture—animals and plants—is ruining the planet. Here are some things we have learned from our friends who made the award-winning Need to Grow documentary:
5 Ways Industrial Agriculture Is Destroying The Planet
1. Industrial Agriculture Contaminates The Soil And Depletes It Of Nutrients
Did you know soil is considered a thin top layer of “skin” on the Earth? This “skin” is responsible for feeding billions of living things, and although soil may seem endlessly abundant in quantity, our farming practices have drastically depleted it of quality.
In fact, it’s estimated we lose approximately 36 billion tonnes of quality soil annually. 
The rate at which food is grown and harvested, both for humans and livestock, leaves soil depleted of nutrients, as its natural cycle of replenishing nutrients can’t keep up with industrial farming’s growth and harvest cycle.
The chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides used to grow and feed livestock, paired with antibiotic and growth hormone residue used to shorten the harvest time for livestock, all seep into the soil, contaminating it.
These industrial chemicals wreck the soil and the entire ecosystem it is a part of. Water, wildlife, and even humans are exposed to and negatively impacted by these chemicals.
2. Pesticide And Chemical Fertilizer Are Linked To Numerous Health Problems
As mentioned above, pesticides and chemical fertilizers not only degrade the health of our soil, but our own health as well.
We are exposed to them mainly through the food we eat, but also indirectly from the water we drink, the air we breathe, and even the soil we touch. This is a particular cause for concern in developing nations and areas near industrial farms because chemical exposure is higher.
Ingestion and exposure to industrial pesticides and chemical fertilizers can contribute to the toxic load on our body, triggering our bodies to store extra body fat. 
Consumption of, or indirect contact with, pesticides is directly associated with skin irritation, gastrointestinal issues, breathing problems, hormonal imbalances and fertility issues. 
Direct contact can be extremely hazardous and even fatal. This is why the people handling such chemicals require full body suits to protect themselves.
While industrial farming will claim these chemicals are within “safe limits,” the reality is that, while they may be within safe limits for a one-time exposure, the hazards from chemical fertilizers and pesticides are accumulative.
3. Industrial Farming Spreads Disease
Industrial farms are notorious for inhumane growing conditions for animals. Battery cages with less than a square foot of space and mass breeding from constant artificial insemination are just two of the practices that create cruel and unsanitary conditions.
It is the large amount of livestock raised within crowded, enclosed spaces that make it a breeding ground for disease.
Poor animal hygiene, improper sanitation, and the overuse of antibiotics create new strains of viruses and bacteria which spread easily in overcrowded spaces. Not only does industrial farming spread disease among animals, but can be spread to humans as well.
Improper handling or consumption of raw or undercooked meat is a common way people get infected with food borne illnesses.
Cross contamination, either from animal sewage run-off getting into water used on plants, or from handling animal products and produce without proper sanitization in between, is another way disease spreads.
The Center for Disease Control has cited that out of every 4 diseases, 3 come from animals. 
4. Industrial Farming Causes Deforestation
Agriculture is the number one culprit for deforestation worldwide.  Forest land is burned, destroyed and converted into thousands of acres of agricultural land for crops and livestock to be grown.
Mass produced products such as palm, soy, beef, pork, poultry, dairy, corn and wheat have cleared up over 1.3 million square kilometers of forest between 1990 -2016 alone, and the rate is only increasing.
Deforestation isn’t only devastating to the forest ecosystems. Humans also depend on forests to absorb carbon, regulate rainfall, mitigate climate change, and prevent soil erosion.
5. Industrial Farming Causes Air Pollution
As you may already know, industrial farming is a major contributor to air pollution. 14.5% of greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, come from livestock manure alone. 
The massive quantities of fertilizers used to grow crops also release greenhouse gases, and constant spraying of chemical pesticides contaminates surrounding air.
Livestock, fertilizers and pesticides all contribute to air pollution, but perhaps the most alarming way industrial agriculture causes climate change is via the amount of fossil fuels burned to power farming machinery.
Fossil fuel emissions not only create smog, but also acid rain, which creates a cycle of pollution from air, to soil, to water, which is damaging both for human and environmental health.
What You Can Do About It
Industrial agriculture may be a giant, but the supply system will change if our demands change.
There is no denying that this is a complex issue, but if enough people make small changes, we can still make big enough changes to prolong the life of our planet and our health.
Learn more about industrial agriculture and actionable steps you can take to help stop it in…
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