Facts and Ethics of Food Production

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Website URL: http://www.sustainabletable.org
Date of Review: 5/20/08
Name of Reviewer: Erin O'Neil
Review of Site: The organization of GRACE is responsible for this webpage. The website has no current date, but the Sustainable Table Program was created in 2003 and has been updated within the last year at least. Although the purpose of the website is clearly to promote environmentally friendly practices such as hte betterment of animal treatment, it is unbiased and relies on facts and figures alone to prove its point. The information is organized into several subjects, providing an in depth analysis of several issues, including additives, factory farming, and cloning. The purpose of the website is strictly to inform and educate the community on eco-safe production and consumption of food, water, and energy. I would definitely recommend this website because it is extremely objective and easy to use. All of its information--which is officially cited on the website--comes from reliable sources as well, such as newspaper articles and published books. This website provides useful, interesting, and most importantly reliable information, which contributes to the enlightenment of those who
use it.

Website URL: http://www.goveg.com/factoryFarming.asp</span
Name of Reviewer: Ellen Piehl
Date of Review: 5/20/08
Review of Site: This webpage was created by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. The purpose of this website is to show consumers the cruel ways in which "farm" animals are treated. The webiste is clearly biased as it only displays the problems with the current methods of raising animals in the meat and dairy industries. The site clearly shows that PETA is strongly against the harmful and careless ways in which animals in the food industry are treated. The content of the website is very in depth. It explains how many animals including turkeys, cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, and fish are mistreated.


  • Factory Farming- A system of large-scale industrialized and intesive agriculture that is focused on proft with animals kept indoors and restricted in mobility (Dictionary.com).
  • Pros: Low maitenance costs and more production at cheaper costs which leads to lower consumer food prices
  • Cons: Low living standards for animals, mistreatment of animals (mutilation, living conditions, etc.), possible future creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, waste mismanagement & pollution,
  • People who are pro factory farming believe that the most important aspect of farming in increasing agricultural production and do not take into account issues such as the treatment of the animals or the consequences of antibiotic use.
  • People who are antio factory farming want to discover eco-friendly alternatives to food, water, and energy production that are not harmful to the environment or human health.
  • Although most people do not like factory farming, very few people are outright against the practice:
    • Possible consequences of the removal of factory farming outweigh animal treatment concerns
    • People don't care about either animals or future retribution to act
    • Production of food is the most important thing for mankind: no matter the consequences
  • Antibiotics- Vaccines and other treatments used in the agricultural industry to fight/prevent disease among animals
  • Pros: Antibiotics protect human/animal health
  • Cons: Extensive use of anitbiotics could lead to anti-biotic resistance, could damage human health through contamination
  • People who are pro antibiotic-use beleive that antibotics are necessary to keep agriculture/meatpacking clean
  • People who are anti antibiotic-use beleive that the dangers of antibiotics are more important than the benefits (do not trust the FDA to properly regulate antibiotics)
  • Implants- Devices planted inside larges animals that release hormones
  • Pros- Increased rates of productivity and profit, lower food production food costs, more efficient producitivy
  • Cons- Negative physical effects on animals
  • Ethical Theme- Productivity vs. Morality (Where's the Line?)

  • Until the late 1980s implants were mainly estrogenic agents with metabolically enhanced nutrient use to enhance growth
  • These implants increased efficiency by around 5-10%
  • Daily gains increased by about 5-15%
  • In 1987 a new implant that utilized the androgenic agent trenbolone acetate was approved
  • This product further increased the growth enhancing effects of estrogenic agents

  • Cattle must be nutritionally healthy before implants can substantially influence feed efficiency and gain
  • Typically older cattle respond better to implants
  • Estrogenic implants increase the circulating levels of somatotropin and insulin-like growth factor-1
  • These substances are naturally produced by the animal and influence bone, muscle, and fat production
  • Androgenic agents typically only increase insulin-like growth factor-1 levels
  • Upon implantations, implants rapidly release horomones that promote growth
  • These hormones raise growth stimulation levels in the animal to well above the natural "threshold"
  • After a few days the level of hormones being released begins to decrease steadliy
  • The typically lifespan of implants varies from brand to brand
  • Ralgro releases growth promotant for around 75 days
  • Compudose releases growth promotant for nearly 200 days

  • Estrogenic implants increase feed efficiency and gain by 5-15%
  • Used with androgenic implants, this number increases by 3-5%
  • Estrogenic implants used in yearlings cows yield returns at least $5 greater than the cost of the implant
  • Adding androgenic agents increases this return by around $2

Implant Use:
  • The FDA sets the regulations for implant use
  • Implants are only allowed to be administered in the middle third of the back side of the ear
  • This location was chosen because ears are removed during slaughter
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  • High tailheads
  • Sunken loins
  • Heavy hide weights
  • Vaginal and rectal prolapses
  • Infections of the implantation site
  • Heavy body weight

  • Antibiotics are incorporated into the diets of factory farming animals to reduce disease and promote growth
  • 80% of all cattle and chickens in the meat industry are fed antibiotics in sub-theraputic doses in their feed
    • Prevents disease, instead of curing disease
  • Larger animals are often given antibiotics in large doses by injection
  • All types of factory animals are given routine vaccines as small infants - more resistance
  • All antibiotics in feed require a veternarian's prescription
  • Antibiotic injections and implants must be performed by a veternarian
  • Most antibiotics are given to animals to prevent disease that are caused only by the animals' horrible living conditions
  • Without antibiotics most factory animals would die before market weight because of their unnatural living conditions

Activists want to ban the use of antibiotics in the commericial meat and dairy industries all together. Yet, others are worried that if antibiotic use is stopped millions of factory animals will die of disease.

The FDA aims to assure that meat and meat food products distributed to the public are wholesome, not adultured, and properly marked, labeled, and packaged.

Current Laws:
  1. All animals must be examined by and FDA approved inspector before slaughtering. Diseased animals must be slaughtered separately and the carcasses must examined before disposal.
  2. Humane methods of slaughering must be practiced.
  3. Carcasses must be marked and labeled by an inspector. Those condemmend shall be properly disposed of.
  4. Inspections must be carried out before any parts of the carcasses are brought into factories where they will be canned, processed, or packaged for sale.
  5. Information on articles or containers of meat or meat products must be legible and understandable.
  6. Definitions and standards of identity and composition on lables must be consistent with federal and federal-state laws.
  7. Slaughtering and packing establishments must be in a state of cleanliness deemed appropriate by the inspector on site.

  1. Discuss the pros and cons of using antibiotics in agricultural production. Do you think that the benefits of increased agricultural production outweigh the possible consequences?
  2. Why do you think that agricultural animals are treated worse than domestic pets? Why do you think that this is or isn't right?
  3. Activists want to ban the use of antibiotics altogether. Would you agree with this movement? Discuss the possible consequences.