How industrial agriculture is unsustainable


The industrial agriculture system consumes fossil fuel, water, and topsoil at unsustainable rates. It contributes to numerous forms of environmental degradation, including air and water pollution, soil depletion, diminishing biodiversity, and fish die-offs.


What animals are affected by unsustainable farming?

Poultry farming results in the death of tens of billions of broiler chickens every single year. And egg farming is responsible for the suffering of billions of more layer hens that are stuck in a cycle of cruelty. Chickens are grown on factory farms at rates well beyond what nature ever intended for them.

What are the disadvantages of sustainable agriculture?

  • because of the reduced use of chemicals and organic ways.
  • reduced emissions
  • better nutrition .
  • better resistance and good biodiversity in the farm

Which foods are unsustainable?

“We may not have all the answers, but we certainly know we better be raising the questions.” Meat represents the ultimate in unsustainable food products. Meat goods for consumers, for instance,…

What is unsustainable farming?

Yesterday (20th December), Compassion described plans to launch the world’s first commercial octopus farm as cruel and unsustainable in a high-profile international BBC news story. The story, ‘The world’s first octopus farm – should it go ahead?’,


What are the negatives of industrial agriculture?

Industrial farming is bad for the health of workers, eaters, and downstream neighbors. Here are some of its costly health impacts: Pesticide toxicity. Herbicides and insecticides commonly used in agriculture have been associated with both acute poisoning and long-term chronic illness.

Why agriculture is unsustainable?

Unsustainable agriculture, in addition, has adversative socio-economic consequences. For example, water scarcity has been the prominent trigger of the unfolding food crisis in the world. The practice results in a decline in productivity of land due to soil erosion and desertification.

Why is industrialized agriculture bad for the environment?

Industrial agriculture harms the environment through pollution of air, soil and water. Air emissions from livestock operations make up 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Conventional crop production degrades soil health and causes soil erosion.

What are the key sustainability issues around industrial agriculture?

Environmental issues associated with industrial agriculture include deforestation, climate change, irrigation problems, pollutants, soil degradation and waste disposal.

What are two unsustainable agricultural practices?

Unsustainable techniques used in modern agricultureUsing lots of chemicals. … Growing and producing genetically modified organisms. … Growing monoculture crops. … Overproduction and more food waste. … Global corporate agribusiness. … Growing crops on every space and inch of land available. … Natural vegetation clearing.More items…•

What are examples of unsustainable practices?

Unsustainable agricultural practicesLand conversion and habitat loss.Genetic erosion.Global warming or climate change. … Pollution and contamination of our air, land, and water.Soil degradation and erosion.Wasteful consumption of water.

What are three major problems of industrial agriculture?

Industrial agriculture has led to several public health concerns such as antimicrobial resistance, impacts on occupational and community health, and transfer of zoonotic diseases to humans (Marshall & Levy, 2011).

What environmental problems arise from industrialized production?

What Environmental Problems Arise From Food Production?Water Use & Water Pollution. Growing food takes a lot of water. … Greenhouse Gas Emissions. … Environmental Contaminants & Pollutants. … Depletion of Natural Resources. … Zero Waste Grocery Stores. … Eco-Friendly Grocery Stores. … Plastic-Free Grocery Stores.

How does industrialization affect the environment?

Finally, industrialization has led to dramatic habitat destruction. Forests are cut down for their lumber, and ecosystems are destroyed to create roads, strip mines and gravel pits.

What are the pros and cons of industrial agriculture?

Top 10 Factory Farming Pros & Cons – Summary ListFactory Farming ProsFactory Farming ConsOptimized processesQuick family separationFast meat productionJob lossesImportant for many local economiesHigh water consumptionAssures large variety of meatLow-quality meat6 more rows

Why are farmers losing autonomy?

Farmers have lost their autonomy over how food is produced, often being kept in the dark even about the ingredients in their animals’ feed [1] This is an unsustainable model of agriculture.

How does monoculture affect the soil?

Monoculture farming directly impairs the land, reducing the amount of water and nutrients the soil can retain, risking another Dust Bowl. [1] . Agriculture claims 80-90% of water use in the U.S., and has depleted groundwater in parts of the Great Plains by up to 30%. [1]

What to do if your community is threatened by factory farming?

If you or your community is threatened by factory farming, or trying to stop unsustainable agriculture from taking root in your community, contact CELDF and learn how to take action. You and your community have rights and CELDF is here to help you fight for them.

Why do agribusinesses use their rights?

Agribusiness corporations use their “rights” under the law to prevent us from rejecting the damage offered up by conventional, large scale farming operations and mandating the type of agriculture that feeds our communities.

Where was the first anti-corporate farm ownership ordinance passed?

In 2000, CELDF spearheaded the first anti-corporate farm ownership ordinance in Wells Township, Fulton County, Pennsylvania, which prohibits corporations from engaging in agriculture. Since then, we have assisted dozens of other communities to protect against unsustainable agriculture.

What is CELDF in agriculture?

CELDF is aiding communities who have decided the current system of unsustainable agriculture cannot preserve their land, their health, their income or their vision of a sustainable future.

How much of the world’s land was used for agriculture in 2007?

According to the study, 38% of the world’s total land area was used for agriculture in 2007 and agriculture is responsible for over 70% of global freshwater consumption. “The fact that the impacts of agricultural products came out so strongly in our report was quite surprising,” says Professor Edgar G. Hertwich.

What are the most important drivers of environmental pressures?

The other is that agriculture and food consumption are “one of the most important drivers of environmental pressures, especially habitat change, climate change, fish depletion, water use and toxic emissions”. For example, in the United States — the world’s third largest agricultural producer — agrochemicals are responsible for the vast majority …

Is agriculture unsustainable?

Agriculture And Food Systems Unsustainable. A landmark scientific assessment commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has confirmed that agriculture is having a monumental impact on earth’s finit e resources . According to the study, 38% of the world’s total land area was used for agriculture in 2007 …

What are some examples of unsustainable techniques used in modern agriculture?

Examples of unsustainable techniques used in modern agriculture. Using lots of chemicals. Not only are the majority of agricultural chemicals toxic to human health, they are also poisoning wildlife and pollinators, running off into water bodies, polluting land, rivers, and wetlands, and destroying important soil microbes …

Why is global corporate agribusiness driving small local producers out of business?

Global corporate agribusiness is driving small local producers out of business because small producers cannot compete with low commodity prices on a global market. Many farmers today struggle with poverty because of the pressure for low global commodity prices in a race to the bottom. Growing crops on every inch of land.

Why are we losing genetic diversity in crop plants?

Only growing a few varieties of crop plants. Because only a few varieties have been grown in commercial agriculture over the last 100 years or so, we are losing a lot of genetic diversity in our crop plants.

Is GMO harmful to the environment?

Growing and producing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) GMO crops are not only detrimental to human health, they are detrimental to the environment. GMO crops have lead to a huge increase in the use of agricultural chemicals being applied to crops, and there have been cases of GMO crop contamination in non-GMO crop fields, …

What is industrial agriculture?

Industrial agriculture is the large-scale, intensive production of crops and animals, often involving chemical fertilizers on crops or the routine , harmful use of antibiotics in animals (as a way to compensate for filthy conditions, even when the animals are not sick). It may also involve crops that are genetically modified, …

How does crop farming affect the environment?

There is soil depletion and soil infertility related to monoculture, soil erosion, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, increased greenhouse gas emissions (particularly methane and nitrous oxide) from cow digestion and manure as well as nitrogen-based fertilizers, and pesticide overuse leading to potential pesticide toxicity (especially in farmworkers). Studies show that employees of CAFOs are at risk from potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria; workers can also bring these bacteria home. Farmworkers and local communities can also be exposed to hazardous fumes wafting from unlined, uncovered pits of animal waste and other sources. And despite the fact that CAFOs often must meet permitting requirements and are regulated by both state and federal agencies, NRDC has discovered a worrying lack of transparency. Discrepancies between data collected by states and the EPA suggest the EPA is unaware of the size, number, and location of CAFOs across the country and what those operations are doing to control pollution. And that’s just for starters. Here are some areas of particular concern.

How much manure was produced in 2012?

In 2012 livestock and poultry raised in the largest CAFOs in the United States produced 369 million tons of manure, according to an analysis of USDA figures done by Food & Water Watch. All that waste has to go somewhere.

Why is monoculture bad for the soil?

Monoculture also renders the soil prone to rapid erosion, since the practice leaves the soil bare outside of the crop’s growing season. Perhaps more problematically, repeatedly planting the same crop invites pests that prey on a certain plant to wait around the same spot for their favorite food to return.

Why do industrial farms use antibiotics?

Industrial farms overuse antibiotics, feeding large amounts of the drugs—often the same ones used to treat human illnesses—to healthy animals to help them survive in crowded, dirty CAFOs. Low-level exposure to antibiotics creates the perfect breeding ground for superbugs, those pathogens that antibiotics can’t kill.

How long has agriculture been around?

Human agriculture has existed for about 12,000 years, and industrial farming is less than a century old. But the latter has become so prevalent that sustainable farming practices are now sometimes branded “alternative.”

What did ancient farmers plant?

Ancient farmers planted seeds from only the sweetest fruits, generation after generation, ensuring that any genetic variations that increased sweetness survived. By selecting plants with increasingly white, increasingly tiny, flowers, farmers turned a weedy little herb into cauliflower. It was slow but effective.

What is the problem with industrial agriculture?

The Problem with Industrial Agriculture: Energy Intensive and Damaging to Social and Environmental Health. The mass industrialization of the US agricultural system can be traced back to policies promoted during the Nixon administration by USDA Secretary Earl Butz, encouraging farmers to “get big or get out.”.

How does industrialization affect agriculture?

Industrialization of the US agricultural system has resulted in increased chemical use, degradation of soils, poor animal welfare, and the death of the small family farm.

Why is monocropping important?

In fact, monocropping requires increased chemical use because vast swaths of the same plant are more susceptible to pests, and a lack of crop diversity deteriorates soil health.

What is the cause of the rise in superweeds?

The overuse of pesticides has led to a rise in resistant superweeds, requiring increased use of chemicals and dependency on more toxic varieties, such as 2,4-D and dicamba. This puts the health of farm workers, farm communities, wildlife, and waterways at risk.


Axelrod, S. J. “Health Problems in Industrialized Agriculture” School of Public Health. September 1949: 1172-1175. Print.

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How does agriculture affect the environment?

While agricultural operations provide unique opportunities to conserve biodiversity, they also can threaten wild species and spaces. From habitat loss to pollution, agriculture contributes to many of the environmental challenges that WWF actively addresses.

How does farming affect the atmosphere?

Many farming practices—such as burning fields and using gasoline-powered machinery—are significant contributors to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) contends that the livestock sector alone is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas production. Additionally, clearing land for agricultural production is a major contributor to climate change, as the carbon stored in intact forests is released when they are cut or burned.

Why is farming important?

Farming is the only viable livelihood option for three-quarters of the world’s extremely poor people. Subsidies provided by U.S. and European governments to their agriculturalists encourage overproduction, which drives down world prices and forces many producers in developing countries to cut corners environmentally. Producers facing declining harvests from cleared lands expand into surrounding wild lands that are rich in biodiversity, resulting in a cycle of increasing poverty and biodiversity loss.

What is the largest industry in the world?

Agriculture is the world’s largest industry. It employs more than one billion people and generates over $1.3 trillion dollars worth of food annually. Pasture and cropland occupy around 50 percent of the Earth’s habitable land and provide habitat and food for a multitude of species.

What are the main sources of pollution in the world?

Agriculture is the leading source of pollution in many countries. Pesticides, fertilizers and other toxic farm chemicals can poison fresh water, marine ecosystems, air and soil. They also can remain in the environment for generations. Many pesticides are suspected of disrupting the hormonal systems of people and wildlife. Fertilizer run-off impacts waterways and coral reefs.


Production, Consumption and Material Usage

The Meat

  • Most alarming however, is the inefficiency of our food production system, encouraged by diet preferences in developed countries especially, but increasingly worldwide. Even in comparison to industrial activities, which are heavily criticised for their impacts on the atmosphere and biosphere, “agricultural processes have an inherently low efficiency…

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Life-Cycle Analysis

  • In determining its findings, the report team uses the DPSIR (Driving force – Pressure – State – Impact – Response) framework to take into account all aspects of environmental impacts. DPSIR measures ‘embedded’ environmental impacts, including “manufacture, use and end-of-life” impacts. This life-cycle analysis of the impacts of electric cars, for example, offers a more accur…

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Growth Misunderstanding

  • One of the report’s fundamental aims is to “contribute to a better understanding of how to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation”. “We have established a clear connection of causation between environmental impacts and levels of wealth within countries. Wealthier people cause more environmental impacts — this is a consistent finding,” says Hertwi…

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So, Where Do We Start?

  • With so many areas for change recommended in this report and in environmental policy discussions generally, where can policy makers and citizens start to make a change? This conundrum is duly acknowledged by UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director UNEP Achim Steiner in the preface of the report: “Decision makers could be forgiven for not knowing w…

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