Environmentalists have long decried the health hazard and general pollution created by concentrated animal waste from factory farms and the feds are finally starting to listen. The Pew Center is releasing the report from its commission on industrial farm animal production. The center has been conducting its research for the past two-and-a half years and commercial hog farms are a source of major concern. The Pew Commission concluded that “Industrial Scale Farm Animal Production Poses “Unacceptable” Risks to Public Health, Environment.” The treatment of animal waste is far less stringent than that regulating human waste yet the concentration of large scale factory farms makes the overall quantity of waste comparable to that of many human communities. Deep pits for waste often contaminate ground water and spreading the untreated manure on the surface of fields as fertilizer pollutes streams and shallow wells. The increasing cost of petroleum derived chemical fertilizers has led to even greater demands for the surface spreading of hog manure, complicating the already problematic situation. At the moment, the use and treatment of such waste is regulated by a patchwork of state, county, and municipal laws, or unregulated altogether. Together with state officials, like Kansas’s governor John Carlin, the pew report suggests a national reappraisal and standardization of these regulations in an effort to increase responsible and sustainable stewardship of the countries waterways and rural communities. No longer do you have to scour the pages of Mother Jones or the Sierra Club newsletter to uncover the pollution and polluters in your back yard. The importance of thinking green is beginning to draw long ignored environmental arguments into the mainstream spotlight.


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