The dangers of intensive livestock breeding

By Tania Georgiopoulou

Intensive farming is increasing the greenhouse effect to a greater extent than all means of transport combined, as it produces more greenhouse gases than they do, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Animal production produces 9 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2), 65 percent nitrogen oxide, which is 296 times worse than CO2 for the greenhouse effect, 37 percent of methane, which is 23 times worse than CO2, and 64 percent of the ammonia which results in acid rain, according to the FAO survey. On October 24, World Obesity Day, it was announced that the problem has assumed astronomic proportions in Greece where one in three women and one in 3.5 men are overweight. Greeks are among the most obese people in Europe. The World Health Organization recognizes that the obesity epidemic is one of the most serious public health problems. The challenge is clear. What sense is there in a culture that exhausts the planet's resources in order to produce more and more animal products, by crowding animals into small spaces and eventually destroying the environment so as to provide people with plenty of cheap food that will only result in a worse quality of life and eventually death? The consumption of animal fats and livestock products is largely responsible for obesity and the resultant health problems. Even those who have no idea about nutrition cannot claim that eating tons of beans will make someone gain weight. How much meat do we need to eat every week? Why should animals have to eat enormous quantities of protein-filled seeds (such as soya) to produce even more meat? The simplest answer is because some people have made investments and want the greatest returns possible. However, they should also count the cost of restoring the damage they cause to the natural environment. The next time we subsidize these practices by our shopping habits, we should think twice, because it is we who comprise that indefinable but extremely important group that we call «consumers.»