Speaker warns of dangers of factory farm pollution

“80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States go to animals in factory farms where there is an absence of disease,” said Karen Hudson, founder of Families Against Rural Messes. “Arsenic is also added to the chicken feed. I bet you all didn’t know that.”

Hudson and several others discussed the horrors of factory farming and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Marty Theater Tuesday night as part of the Political Science Current Issues series.

“I grew up on a fifth generation farm, so I’ve always been around agriculture,” she said “But then factory farms started moving into Knox and Peoria Counties. They said they wouldn’t cause any pollution of any sort when they came here, but everything they said was a lie. They’ve been sued for things ranging from spills, pollution and toxic exposure.”

Hudson said the pollution from CAFOs is so bad it can affect nearby residents’ health.

“My friend Julie’s entire family suffered from hydrogen sulfide poisoning after the CAFOs moved in,” she said. “Her daughter has permanent brain damage from it. They settled out of court, but this is something that many areas across the country are suffering from.”

Author Daniel Imhoff said the animals in CAFOs are horribly mistreated.

“In CAFOs, they jam as many animals in a small, confined area as they can,” he said. “They have them grow as quickly and efficiently as possible with as little labor as possible. The chickens’ bones become so brittle, they’ll break if the chicken does so much as hop or roam a bit. These are what factory farms are, and almost all animal food production is run this way.”

Department chair and professor of anthropology at Northern Illinois University Kendall Thu said human culture is shaped by the way we eat and get food.

“The way food is grown and gathered fundamentally shapes human cultures through time and around the world,” he said. “The way you purchase and consume affects all of us. We need to create solutions for the future, and you can be part of that. When looking for organic, not CAFO meat and a package says it contains natural meat, it really just means it’s dead.”