Factory Farms and Big Agriculture: Their Connection to Global Warming and Water Pollution


One reason food producer hampton Creek wants to replace animal-based foods with plant-based substances is that factory farms are connected with greenhouse gas emissions. Those emissions, in turn, are connected with global warming. Hampton Creek currently focuses mainly on creating substitutes for eggs, both in commercial products such as mayonnaise and for the scrambled egg itself.

Some researchers theorize that factory farming actually is one of the main culprits in global warming. This includes a wider umbrella encompassing industrial food production and the type of field farming required for intensive livestock production. These agribusiness entities generate and release enormous amounts of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. They also use enormous amounts of fossil fuels. Big agriculture is implicated in deforestation and the decimation of wetlands, which would normally alleviate some of the problems with greenhouse gases.

In factory farms worldwide, billions of animals are kept in cages known as confined animal feeding operations. The number of animals in these facilities is extreme for the amount of space. The amount of greenhouses gases released from intensive agriculture is more than that of the entire transportation system. Methane is released from animal waste, and nitrous oxide from pesticides applied while growing soy and corn for the livestock.

The pesticides, as well as chemical fertilizers, eventually seep into groundwater and are carried through rainwater into waterways. Intensive farming facilities find it impossible to contain all the animal waste, which also can run off into rivers, lakes and streams. The waste commonly contains antibiotic, hormone and arsenic residue, since these substances are fed to livestock to prevent disease and artificially spur growth.

Nearly all the meat and eggs produced in the United States come from these factory farm facilities. Before the Internet became so widespread and packed with information, big corporations were able to keep consumers in the dark for the most part about the reality of big agriculture. Now, however, people are increasingly aware of how big agriculture contributes to pollution, as well as how inhumanely the animals are treated. They seek alternatives for their food purchases. Hampton Creek wants to be a significant part of the movement away from intensive livestock production and a trend toward more plant-based foods.