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Elhcay .
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We Are What We Eat: Putting A Stop to A(H1N1), Mad Cow Disease, Bird Flu et al.

A letter that aVSSmember sent to a local newspaper Today.

I REFER to “When Meat Really Is Murder” (April 29). This article highlights the harm done by factory farming of pigs and other animals. Factory farming refers to the modern and rapidly spreading practice of raising animals in buildings similar to the factories in which we produce objects such as watches or plastic furniture.

These factory farms reduce the cost of meat by providing the highest output at the lowest cost via machinery, biotechnology, global trade, and economies of scale. However, by confining thousands of animals in one building, factory farms create a breeding ground for pandemic diseases, such as swine flu and avian flu. In a vain attempt to combat such diseases, antibiotics must be used on a large scale. In fact, one expert estimates that livestock production accounts for 50% of U.S. antibiotics use.

Factory farms also damage the environment. For instance, the involuntarily confined animals produce huge amounts of manure and other wastes which foul the air and water. This waste also emits methane and nitrous oxide, two greenhouses gases more potent than carbon dioxide.

But perhaps the most important reason to end factory farming lies not in the danger of pandemics or in the damage to the environment, but in the living hell suffered by our blameless fellow animals trapped on factory farms and deprived of the social and physical characteristics of a natural life. Recent research is documenting that other mammals, such as pigs and cows, and even birds, such as chickens, have the capacity to think and feel. (See, for example, the March, 2008 issue of National Geographic.) Indeed, they are not objects to be produced by us in factories.

We can reduce the threat of pandemics and show kindness towards other animals by moving away from factory farming, reducing our consumption of meat, and enjoying more fruits, vegetables and other plant foods.

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The Arctic ice could well be gone by 2012. NE, NW passages have opened up in North Pole for the first time in 125,000 years, Ayles Ice Shelf has broken off, met

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