Pollution and Public Health in a Shrinking World: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations as a Paradigm for Emergent Needs in Environmental and Public Health Policy
Environmental factors play a major part in human health. Environmental pollutants are often as poisonous to humans as the environment. Presently, much time and energy is dedicated to keeping pollution apart from human society, with varying success. But as global population densities rise, current levels of pollution will become inviable due to public health concerns. An emergent example of this is in the concentration of livestock operations. Recent changes in the structure of U.S. hog farming have resulted in an industry-wide shift from small or medium production farms to high capacity, “concentrated animal feeding operations” (CAFO). These operations have become the subject of intense debate due to air and water pollution, including odor, that can be nuisances or outright public health threats to their communities. In addition, the quantities of animal wastes produced and seasonally sequestered by these operations can be accidentally released via natural processes like floods, often with catastrophic results. Finally, the animals live in conditions of high stress and poor hygiene that are conducive to disease and so most operations therefore feed their animals antibiotics on a regular basis. Recent studies have found increased incidence of antibiotic resistance resulting from this chronic application of antibiotics. Current regulations have failed to resolve these problems, and in 2003 the American Public Health Association issued a call for a moratorium on CAFO construction. The purpose of this paper is to explore economic and legal solutions to this harmful shift in industry structure.
Stillman, Leland, "Pollution and Public Health in a Shrinking World: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations as a Paradigm for Emergent Needs in Environmental and Public Health Policy" (2010). Self-Designed Majors Honors Papers. 2.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.