On April 29, the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released the results of a 2½-year study—and the news isn’t pretty.

Researchers found what many organic consumers already know: Industrial-scale farms often pose unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and the welfare of the animals themselves.

The report says the negative effects of industrial farms are too strong to ignore and that significant changes must be implemented soon.

Specific problems include:

  1. Public health threats caused by a large concentration of farm animals in close proximity, which can increase disease transmission among animals and humans
  2. Environmental hazards caused by huge quantities of animal waste, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, heavy metals and other chemicals that find their way to waterways, lakes, groundwater, soils and airways
  3. An increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the microbial degradation of manure, which affects air quality
  4. Inhumane treatment of animals, including restrictive confinement
  5. A shift in economic power from family farmers to industrial livestock processors

Some of the commission’s recommendations include banning nontherapeutic use of antimicrobials in food animals, implementing a disease-monitoring program, employing new ways to deal with farm waste and phasing out inhumane production practices.

To read the full report, click here (PDF file).