As you know, GMO crops aren’t purchased in produce departments (although some 100,000 acres of GMO sweet corn were harvested in 2014, that is a very small number). GMOs go into biofuels and into processed foods and drinks. We aren’t talking about feeding people with corn and soy directly, but cattle, hogs and chickens do eat those crops directly. So the other rival outlet for the sale of cheap corn, mostly corn, and soy are meat producers.
Here is another place where people put up their defenses because eating beef in the US is almost a patriotic act. We eat burgers and hot dogs at football games and baseball games. Burgers are fast food and cheap for families and it can be offensive to people to try to mess with that. In addition, when you start talking about factory farms and feed lots people can feel like we are accusing the very fabric of the American way of life. Big, successful, profitable companies are all about the American dream. More so is the successful farm. We want to support farmers. We feel passionately defensive for farmers and it can get contentious to challenge farming practices.
But when we talk about high density cattle farming or hog farming, I believe we need to separate the romantic imagery of the family farm from the stark reality of modern corporate farm practices. The farms where modern day corn and soy crops are grown for the food industry are owned by corporations who receive government subsidies to grow the cheap crops to supply meat producers and food producers.
Today cheap corn is feeding animals that were never designed to eat corn in conditions they were never designed to live in. I wonder if you know that when a cow is transferred to a feed lot to fatten up for slaughter, it will die naturally within 6 months because of the lack of nutrients in the corn and the strain on the cow’s digestive system? Prematurely fat and with deteriorating health, cows are now slaughtered at 18 months instead of 4 or 5 years. Cows raised in feed lots never graze on open pastures, they are confined to small spaces and eat exclusively what is fed to them in troughs. The lots are unsanitary as the animals live in their own feces. Does that seem right to you? Are you aware that in order to stave off life threatening diseases from the acidosis that develops in the animals stomachs and the unsanitary conditions, the animals are given doses of antibiotics that are then present in the meat when we put it on our tables?
Does that seem right to you? Did you know that in the State of Colorado it is now illegal to take photographs of these feed lots where up to 100,000 animals are living? Receiving jail time for free speech and journalism; does that seem right to you? Take a step back and think about it. Put out of your mind the advertisement images of a gritty man in a cowboy hat with his pick-up truck leading a life of self-determination at his family farm.
Is this really how we are meant to be living out our God-given mandate to rule, reign, have dominion or be masters over the living things of the Earth? We do not need research studies, or academics, or experts, or political leaders, or corporate CEOs to tell us what is right or wrong about these practices. We know with our common sense and in our hearts that this is not the way of a natural life. Nor is it a responsible means of stewardship of animals, the earth and our health.
Think about this too. Did you know that the consumption of red meat (which includes beef, pork, and lamb) is cancer causing and the American Cancer Society recommends eating no more than 18 oz of red meat per week but we are actually consuming more like 30 oz? It is a fact that Americans are eating more calories per day than at any other time in history and our health is paying the price. Does it seem like common sense to you that we are engaging in these factory farm practices for the sake of producing cheap meat so that we can eat more?
Are we feeding people who would otherwise be hungry or are we indulging in a contemporary cultural phenomenon of over-eating? No, when agrochemical companies talk about feeding the world, I think what they are really talking about is feeding the world with cheap beef, corn chips and soda. What else could they be talking about? Seriously, what else could they possibly be talking about?