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Sources for The Rotten Truth

Because this is the Rotten Truth, here are some references:


The science, research, and reporting about the impacts of factory farming on the planet, people, and animals is growing. The statistics used in this series were based on the best information we had available during production. We will update this page when new research comes to light.


Episode 1: Have Family Farms Gone EXTINCT?!

The number of farms in the United States has fallen from more than 6 million farms during the peak of farm numbers in the early 20th century to around 2 million farms today.

Source: United States. (2014). 2012 Census of Agriculture: Volume 1, Part 51.

Four corporations own more than 85% of meat production in the United States [Cargill, Smithfield, JBS, Tyson].

Source: Leonard, C. (2015). The meat racket: The secret takeover of America's food business. New York: Simon & Schuster

More than 10 billion land animals are raised and killed for meat, dairy and eggs in the United States for food every single year.

Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Livestock & Meat Domestic Data. (2021, June 29).

23% of American consumers have consumed plant-based alternatives, and 37% of people who do not eat plant-based alternatives of people are interested in trying them.

Packaged Facts. (2020, October 28).


Episode 2: Why Do Vegans HATE the Amazon Rainforest?!

Animal Ag is leading cause of Amazon deforestation.

Henders, S., Persson, U. M., & Kastner, T. (December 22, 2015). Trading forests: Land-use change and carbon emissions embodied in production and exports of forest-risk commodities. Environmental Research Letters, 10, 12.

50% of Brazil’s cattle graze on land that was once rainforest.

Carvalho, Raquel, de Aguiar, Ana Paula Dutra, & Amaral, Silvana. (2020). Diversity of cattle raising systems and its effects over forest regrowth in a core region of cattle production in the Brazilian Amazon. Stockholms universitet, Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Many of those fires are intentionally started by ranchers who want to clear more space for grazing cattle and by farmers who want to grow more corn and soy.

Carvalho, Raquel, de Aguiar, Ana Paula Dutra, & Amaral, Silvana. (2020). Diversity of cattle raising systems and its effects over forest regrowth in a core region of cattle production in the Brazilian Amazon. Stockholms universitet, Stockholm Resilience Centre.

There are over a million indigenous people living in the Amazon basin, including 66 tribes who have limited or no contact with the outside world.

World Wildlife Fund: Protected Areas and Indigenous Territories.

90% of Amazonian soy is used to feed factory farmed animals.

Brazilian hunger for meat fattened on soy is deforesting the Cerrado. Giovanni Ortolani, 1/16/19 mongabay.com.

Direct human consumption is 6% of global soy.

Fraanje, W. & Garnett, T. (2020). Soy: food, feed, and land use change. (Foodsource: Building Blocks). Food Climate Research Network, University of Oxford.


Episode 3: This KID wants to KILL animals when they grow up

There are approximately 800 federally inspected slaughterhouses in the United States.

USDA: Overview of the US Slaughter Industry. 2016.

Slaughterhouses and meat processing facilities in the United States employ over 500,000 people.

Kandel, William. “Recent Trends in Rural-based Meat Processing.” Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture citing Bureau of Labor statistics. (9/6/17)

More than 50% of front line meatpacking workers in the U.S. are immigrants.

Center for Economic and Policy Research. (2020, May 5). “Meatpacking workers are a diverse group who need better protections.'“ Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The frequency of injuries or illness in the animal slaughtering and processing industries is higher than for all manufacturing and all private industry.

Smith, S. M. (July 01, 2017). “How safe are the workers who process our food?” Monthly Labor Review, 1-11.

Workers at the four largest U.S. poultry companies have reported being denied bathroom breaks and some even being forced to wear diapers.

Oxfam. (2016). (rep.). No relief: Denial of bathroom breaks in the poultry industry. Retrieved from https://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/research-publications/no-relief/

Koch foods was forced to pay $3.75 million to settle discrimination and labor abuse lawsuits filed against them meat processing workers in Mississippi. Shortly after the settlement, Immigration control and Enforcement (ICE) conducted one of the largest raids in History, arresting 680 people at the same poultry plant.

Rosenberg, M., &; Cooke, K. (2019, August 9). Allegations of labor abuses dogged Mississippi plant years before immigration raids.


Episode 4: SECRET Footage from Factory Farming HQ

99% of animals raised for food in the United States are raised on factory farms.

Anthis, J. (2019, April 11). US factory Farming Estimates. Retrieved February 19, 2021, from https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/us-factory-farming-estimates

Conditions for egg-laying chickens on "cage-free" farms vs. battery cage facilities are often not much better and have in fact been documented to result in higher rates of injury and mortality for chickens.

Matthews, D. (2015, December 25). Cage-free, free range, organic: What all those egg labels really mean. Vox.com. https://www.vox.com/2015/12/25/10662742/egg-labels-cage-free.

A 2018 investigation by Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) of Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventures, a subsidiary of Fairlife Corporation, revealed extreme abuse of animals and poor living conditions.

Animal Recovery Mission. (2019, June 4). Operation fair oaks farms dairy adventure. www.animalrecoverymission.org/. https://animalrecoverymission.org/operations/factory-farm-division/operation-fair-oaks-farms-dairy-adventure/.

Although birds raised in "free range" certified facilities are required to have access to the outdoors, living conditions are often the same as non-cage free facilities because space requirements and quality of the outdoor area are undefined.

Humane Facts. (2017, March 7). Labels and loopholes. humanefacts.org. https://humanefacts.org/labels-loopholes/.

A 2019 study found that birds raised without antibiotics had a higher likelihood of contracting diseases and suffer more severe symptoms.

Joanna Karavolias, Matthew Jude Salois, Kristi T Baker, Kevin Watkins, Raised without antibiotics: impact on animal welfare and implications for food policy, Translational Animal Science, Volume 2, Issue 4, October 2018, Pages 337–348, https://doi.org/10.1093/tas/txy016

Many terms including "all natural" and "pasture raised" are not regulated by the USDA and can be used by companies with no consequences.

Plumer, B. (2014, June 23). "All-Natural" labels on food are meaningless. let's get rid of them. Vox.com. https://www.vox.com/2014/6/23/5827850/those-all-natural-labels-on-food-are-totally-meaningless.


Episode 5: The NUMBER ONE Cause of Species Extinction

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of habitat destruction and biodiversity loss globally.

Benton, T. et al., 2021. Food System Impacts on Biodiversity Loss, Chatham House. Retrieved from https://policycommons.net/artifacts/1423218/food-system-impacts-on-biodiversity-loss/ CID: 20.500.12592/9h0f3n


Episode 6: Factory Farms Spray LIQUID POO On People

Low-income, minority communities are disproportionately targeted and impacted by industrial polluters.

Taylor, D. (2014). Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility. New York, USA: New York University Press. https://doi.org/10.18574/9781479805150

Pig CAFO's are disproportionately located in low-income communities and communities of color.

Maria C. Mirabelli, Steve Wing, Stephen W. Marshall, and Timothy C. Wilcosky, “Race, Poverty, and Potential Exposure of Middle-School Students to Air Emissions from Confined Swine Feeding Operations,” n.d., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1440786/ (12/4/10)

Industrial animal agriculture operations store waste and other contaminants in large "lagoons" that are commonly emptied by spraying the liquid waste onto fields as fertilizer.

Hribar, C., & Schultz, M. (2010). (rep.). Understanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Their Impact on Communities. National Association of Local Boards of Health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf

People living within 3 miles of a CAFO were found to be 1.8-1.9 times more likely than those living five miles away to report one or more asthma attacks in the last 12 months or need asthma medication.

Amy A. Schultz, Paul Peppard, Ron E. Gangnon, & Kristen M.C. Malecki. (September 01, 2019). Residential proximity to concentrated animal feeding operations and allergic and respiratory disease. Environment International, 130.

In a recent (August 2021) case that continues a history of similar fatalities, three brothers died after passing out in a manure pit in Western, Ohio.

Willetts, M. (2021, August 11). Three brothers die after passing out in manure pit at Ohio farm, authorities say. Kansas Star. https://www.kansascity.com/news/nation-world/national/article253418144.html

Elevated nitrate levels in drinking water from CAFO pollution can lead to birth defects and miscarriages.

Hribar, C., & Schultz, M. (2010). (rep.). Understanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Their Impact on Communities. National Association of Local Boards of Health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf

A study of private wells in Maryland's Wicomico and Worcester counties (home to a growing number of CAFO's) published in 2020 found nitrates at levels exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) safe drinking water threshold in roughly one out of every 25 private drinking water wells. An additional one out of 14 wells had nitrate concentrations just below EPA’s threshold, which public health research suggests may be hazardous to people’s health.

Schmitt , K., & Minovi , D. (2020). (rep.). Tainted Tap: Nitrate Pollution, Factory Farms, and Drinking Water in Maryland and Beyond. The Center for Progressive Reform. Retrieved from https://progressivereform.org/our-work/energy-environment/tainted-tap-nitrate/

The property value of homes declines when factory farms are built nearby.

Kilpatrick, J. A., PhD, MAI. (2015). Animal Operations and Residential Property Values. The Appraisal Journal, (Winter), 41-50.

U.S. meat companies have spent millions of dollars on political campaigns, mostly in support of Republican candidates.

Lazarus, O., McDermid, S. & Jacquet, J. The climate responsibilities of industrial meat and dairy producers. Climatic Change 165, 30 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-021-03047-7

A jury awarded $473.5 million to plaintiffs who sued Smithfield Foods in North Carolina over the effects of hog waste on their livelihoods.

Fain, T. (2018). Jury awards $473.5 million to neighbors who sued Smithfield over hog waste. WRAL.com. https://www.wral.com/third-hog-trial-to-jury-plaintiffs-ask-for-millions/17743873/

99% of animals raised for food in the United States are raised on factory farms.

Anthis, J. (2019, April 11). US factory Farming Estimates. Retrieved February 19, 2021, from https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/us-factory-farming-estimates


Episode 7: Do CHEESEBURGERS = Water Crisis?

Approximately 1-2% of the fresh water on Earth is accessible to sustain human and non-human life.

USGS. (n.d.). How Much Water is There on Earth? https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/how-much-water-there-earth?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.

Nestle Waters, which owns 51 brands including Arrowhead and Poland Spring, has been charged in multiple cases with siphoning more water from springs and natural aquifers than it was legally permitted to take.

Perkins, T. (2019, October 19). The fight to stop Nestlé from taking America's water to sell in plastic bottles. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/29/the-fight-over-water-how-nestle-dries-up-us-creeks-to-sell-water-in-plastic-bottles

The average water footprint per calorie for beef is 20 times larger than for cereals and starchy roots.

Mekonnen, M. M., & Hoekstra, A. Y. (2012). A global assessment of the water footprint of farm animal products. Ecosystems, 15(3), 401-415. doi:10.1007/s10021-011-9517-8

It takes over 630 gallons of water, on average, to produce a quarter-pound of beef—equivalent to approximately 27 showers worth of water.

Mekonnen, M. M., & Hoekstra, A. Y. (2012). A global assessment of the water footprint of farm animal products. Ecosystems, 15(3), 401-415. doi:10.1007/s10021-011-9517-8

In the United States, Agriculture accounts for more than 80% of consumptive water use, while water use in homes accounts for around 5%.

Dieter, C. A., Water Availability and Use Science Program (U.S.), & Geological Survey (U.S.). (2018). Estimated use of water in the United States in 2015.

The production of cows' milk uses nearly double the amount of water compared to almond milk.

Poore, J., & Nemecek, T. (2018). Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science, 360(6392), 987-992. doi:10.1126/science.aaq0216

The plant-based milk market is quickly growing and is expected to be worth $21.52 billion by 2024.

Koncept Analytics. (2020). (rep.). Global Plant Based Milk Market (Soy Milk, Almond Milk and Rice Milk): Insights, Trends and Forecast (2020-2024).


Episode 8: Soyspiracy: Busting Myths About Soybeans

Soybeans originated in China and have been cultivated in the country for over 5,000 years.

Qiu, L., & Chang, R. (2010). The origin and history of soybean. The soybean: botany, production and uses, 1-23.

Higher consumption rates of fermented soy products (e.g. miso, tempeh) were found to be associated with a 10% lower all-cause mortality rate.

Katagiri, R., Sawada, N., Goto, A., Yamaji, T., Iwasaki, M., Noda, M., ... & Tsugane, S. (2020). Association of soy and fermented soy product intake with total and cause specific mortality: Prospective cohort study. bmj, 368.

Although isoflavones in soy, or phytoestrogens, are similar to estrogen produced by the human body, soy isoflavones have been found to have a neutral or protective effect against estrogen-linked cancers (e.g. breast cancer).

Katagiri, R., Sawada, N., Goto, A., Yamaji, T., Iwasaki, M., Noda, M., ... & Tsugane, S. (2020). Association of soy and fermented soy product intake with total and cause specific mortality: Prospective cohort study. bmj, 368.

The Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study sound that consumption of isoflavone-rich soy foods was significantly associated with a 29% lower risk of death and a 32% lower risk of cancer recurrence.

Wu, A. H., Yu, M. C., Tseng, C. C., & Pike, M. C. (2008). Epidemiology of soy exposures and breast cancer risk. British journal of cancer, 98(1), 9-14.

Studies have found that soy has protective benefits against other types of cancers including lung and prostate.

Soy and health. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. (n.d.). https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/soy-and-health.

Soy consumption has been shown to confer many other health benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering LDL cholesterol levels, reducing inflammation, and improving thyroid function.

Howard, J. C. (2018, March 29). Soy foods: Healthy or not? CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/07/health/soy-foods-history-cancer-where-do-we-stand-explainer/

A meta-analysis of clinical studies found that soy does not affect testosterone levels and has no adverse effects for men.

Hamilton-Reeves, J. M., Vazquez, G., Duval, S. J., Phipps, W. R., Kurzer, M. S., & Messina, M. J. (2010). Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. Fertility and sterility, 94(3), 997-1007.

Because cows are pregnant when their milk is taken, milk naturally contains hormones like insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), estrogens, and progestins

Milk. (2021, July 6). The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/milk/


Episode 9: Pandemics: It’s What’s For Dinner

3 out of 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in humans come from animals.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Zoonotic Diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/basics/zoonotic-diseases.html

A United Nations Environmental Programme report identifies 7 human-mediated factors that are likely driving the emergence of zoonotic diseases: 1) increasing human demand for animal protein; 2) unsustainable agricultural intensification; 3) increased use and exploitation of wildlife; 4) unsustainable utilization of natural resources accelerated by urbanization, land use change and extractive industries; 5) increased travel and transportation; 6) changes in food supply; and 7) climate change.

United Nations Environment Programme and International Livestock Research Institute (2020). Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission. Nairobi, Kenya.

The intensively confined conditions on factory farms, and other factors including overuse of antibiotics for farmed animals, poses a major risk of future disease outbreaks.

Samuel, S. (2020, August 20). The meat we get from factory farms is a pandemic risk, too. Vox. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/4/22/21228158/coronavirus-pandemic-risk-factory-farming-meat

80% of antibiotics in the U.S. are given to farmed animals. There is growing evidence of the risk that antibiotic overuse on factory farms contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Antibiotic Resistance from the Farm to the Table. September 11, 2014. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/from-farm-to-table.html. Accessed September 14, 2015.

Animal agriculture is responsible for 15.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, approximately the same as the total emissions from the transportation sector.

Factory Farming Awareness Coalition. (2021). GHG Emissions & Animal Agriculture. https://www.ffacoalition.org/ghg-animal-agriculture

Since 1940, agricultural drivers were associated with more than 50% of all infectious zoonotic diseases that emerged in humans.

Rohr, J. R., Barrett, C. B., Civitello, D. J., Craft, M. E., Delius, B., DeLeo, G. A., Hudson, P. J., ... SpringerLink (Online service). (2019). Emerging human infectious diseases and the links to global food production. (Nature sustainability.)

An especially virulent strain of avian influenza, H5N1, has a mortality rate of approximately 60% when contracted by humans.

Poovorawan, Y., Pyungporn, S., Prachayangprecha, S., & Makkoch, J. (January 01, 2013). Global alert to avian influenza virus infection: From H5N1 to H7N9. Pathogens and Global Health.


Episode 10: THIS is how we end factory farming

Of the 15,900 deaths each year in the U.S. caused by air pollution in food production, 80% are attributable to animal-based foods.

Domingo, N. G., Balasubramanian, S., Thakrar, S. K., Clark, M. A., Adams, P. J., Marshall, J. D., ... & Hill, J. D. (2021). Air quality–related health damages of food. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(20).

The Sixth Assessment Report from the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) urges countries to prioritize reducing methane emissions from industries such as livestock and natural gas in order to achieve the greatest short-term impact on climate change mitigation.

IPCC, 2021: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S.L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M.I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T.K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu, and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.

Facing a severe shortage of workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic problems, slaughterhouses and meat-processing companies in the United Kingdom asked the government to allow them to use more prisoners to fill job vacancies.

Race, B. M. (2021, August 23). Prisoners to plug worker shortage in meat industry. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-58303679

Some of the biggest animal meat production companies in the world, including Tyson, Smithfield, and Purdue, have recently introduced plant-based products to capture part of the rapidly-growing market for alternative meat products.

Yaffe-Bellany, D. (2019, October 15). The New Makers of Plant-Based Meat? Big Meat Companies. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/14/business/the-new-makers-of-plant-based-meat-big-meat-companies.html

Plant-based products are a key driver of sales growth at grocery retailers nationwide, growing almost twice as fast as overall food sales.

GFI. (n.d.). Retail sales data: Plant-based meat, eggs, dairy | GFI. The Good Food Institute. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://gfi.org/marketresearch/

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