Read, Debate: Engage.
Read, Debate: Engage.
map tooltip
Nature · Economy

Scars in the land

May 15th, 2014
in:Nature, Economy
by:Itai Lahat
located in:USA
tags:factory farming, industrial farming, land

How factory farming looks from a bird eye’s view

A lot has been said about the ills of factory farming. Factory farms dominate today the global food production, employing abusive practices that maximize agribusiness profits at the expense of the environment, our communities, animal welfare, and even our health. The factory farming industry puts incredible strain on our natural resources. The extreme amount of waste created by raising so many animals in one place pollutes the land, air, and water. Residents of rural communities surrounding factory farms report high incidents of illness, and their property values are often lowered by their proximity to industrial farms. To counteract the health challenges presented by overcrowded, stressful, unsanitary living conditions, antibiotics are used extensively on factory farms, which can create drug-resistant bacteria and put human health at risk.

These practices have been hidden from public eyes in the last years under protection laws like private property and other laws known as the “Gag Laws” that try to silence investigative journalism and animal rights campaigners. Many states in America -ten in 2013 alone -have introduced anti-whistleblower bills that seek to make it a crime to document abuses of livestock, and aim to criminalize anyone who applies for a job in agriculture without stating ties they have to animal rights organizations. But a recently released batch of aerial photographs by British artist Mishka Henner shows that factory farming is taking its toll on our planet. These farms are literally tumors in the American landscape. Henner's shocking photos provide bird's eye proof of the destruction that follows when industrial farming moves into town.

The images, discovered by Henner while researching satellite photographs of oil fields, look more like post-apocalyptic wastelands than acreage in America’s heartland. “While I was working on that series I was looking intensely at the American landscape, and that’s when I came across these really strange-looking structures, like a big lagoon, or all these dots that look like microbes,” Henner told Fast Co. “We have factory farming in England, but we don’t have it on that scale. I was just absolutely blown away.”

So how Did Henner by-passed the gagging laws and managed to publish these frightening scars on the landscape? These aerial shots of factory farming feedlots are open source satellite imagery, so Henner doesn’t have to worry about the legal risk of publishing them. The ones who should be worried are us, the consumers of factory farming products. But we are also the ones to blame. In the last decades meat consumption has risen dramatically all over the world. So is there a real case for small ‘Humane’ farms to replace factory farming? It seems that with growing demand factory farming will continue to flourish. At the end of it all, the answer is simple: consuming less meat gives a fair chance for Humane farming that does not leave the earth looking like henner’s photos.

Article written by:
Itai Lahat
Author
Current Map: Our coverage

Related & recommended articles

Signup for our monthly newsletter
The Best Picks from Our Editors
Send