intensively farming animals to produce meat and dairy products. Animals are farmed in indoor, cramped and unhealthy conditions. Cost is minimised, and output is maximised, with little regard to the broader implications of this industry. Factory farming is known to be the biggest cause of animal cruelty in the world. Similarly, it is now becoming quite well known that factory farming is a massive contributor to global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.
What is less known is that factory farming also is a significant contributor to world hunger.
Most people think that in order to solve world hunger amongst humans, we should be producing as much food as possible. From this point of view, factory farming would make sense – because it produces a lot of food for relatively little financial cost.
However, this is completely incorrect. In fact, factory farming is contributing to one of the greatest hunger crises the world has ever seen¹. One third of people on Earth do not have enough food to eat². The reason for this is often attributed to global warming or war – and indeed these things are contributors. But, in fact, the “grain drain” in the developing world is caused by factory farming³.
Essentially, the developing world produces grains and soy beans, which are then sold cheaply to developed countries and fed to factory farmed animals. Instead of fertile land in the developing world being used to grow healthy crops for humans to eat, it is vastly used to grow feed for livestock.
What makes it even worse is the fact that the grain grown for animals could feed all the world’s hungry people and then some. Feeding it to cattle and other intensively farmed animals is an exceptionally inefficient way to use this food. In fact, one Cornell University article states that the USA could feel 800 million people with the grain that livestock eat⁴. This figure is from 1997, and since then animal agriculture in the USA has skyrocketed even further, and the demand for grain and soy needed to feed these animals has only grown.
A third of all the world’s crops are fed to farm animals, and they also use up a third of the land’s fresh water supply⁵. What’s more, the ratios of grain fed to the animal to meat actually produced are startling. Chickens and pigs convert feed to meat at a ratio of about two to one. On the other end of the spectrum are bullocks (which become beef), which convert at a rate of between five to one and twenty to one⁶. These astounding figures show that feeding livestock is such an inefficient use of produce.
Clearly, factory farming is a major cause of world hunger, due to the huge demands it places on grain. Using the land used for feed to grow food for humans would be a much more efficient and environmentally friendly use of resources.