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9 numbers you don’t want to know

News Section Icon Published 08/06/2012


Factory farming is all too often seen as the cheap, efficient solution to feeding our world. But this could not be further from the truth – it’s dangerous, unfair and dirty. The reality check starts here...

  • 70 billion

    The number of animals farmed worldwide for the production of food each year (excluding farmed fish). Nearly 70% of them spend their lives in factory farms, where maximum production is prioritized above all else.

    Find out more about factory farming.

  • 1 billion

    The approximate number of people around the world who do not have enough to eat1. In stark contrast, 1.5 billion people in the Western world are classified as overweight2.

    Find out more about how factory farming breaks our food systems, taking grain and other precious resources from those who need it most.

  • 31,000

    The number of early deaths from heart disease that Friends of the Earth say could be prevented if the UK population switched to lower-meat diets3.

    Find out more about how factory farming threatens our health.

  • 15,400

    The litres of water that are required to produce an average kilo of beef4. The production of a kilo of beef also requires 15 times as much land as 1kg of cereal and 70 times as much land as 1kg of vegetables5.

    Find out more about how factory farming wastes resources.

  • 75%

    The percentage of antibiotics distributed in the US in 2009 that went to farm animals6,7. Antibiotics are often fed to factory-farmed animals to offset the disease risks posed by overcrowding – this is carried out regardless of whether the animal is infected or not. But the overuse of antibiotics in farming may drive the development of drug-resistant bacteria, which can reduce our ability to recover from a wide range of diseases and food-borne illnesses.

    Find out more about the disease risks of factory farming.

  • 40%

    The percentage of the Amazon that will be destroyed by 2050 if current trends of agricultural expansion for grazing and crops continue8.

    Find out more about how factory farming is endangering the natural world.

  • 14.5%

    The estimated contribution of livestock farming to our global greenhouse-gas emissions9. That’s more than the global transport sector.

    Find out more about how factory farming intensifies climate change, which is in turn harming food production with potentially devastating effects.

  • The age of toddler Kevin Kowalcyk when he was killed by an E. coli infection that he contracted after eating a burger. Two years after his death – and after multiple threatened lawsuits – the family finally learned that Kevin matched a meat recall issued 16 days after he died10.

    His mother Barbara Kowalcyk is now an advocate for food safety in the US. Find out more by reading our "Real story".

  • 1

    The number of European farmers that quit agriculture almost every minute11. According to estimates, employment in the EU agriculture sector fell by 25% between 2000 and 2009. 

    With its significant focus on mechanisation, factory farming is putting European farming livelihoods under enormous pressure.

What do you think? Why not explore the site and find out more about the diverse impacts of factory farming – what surprises or alarms you most?

Huge thanks to ansik for the image (cc)

Our sources

  1. WFP (2011), Hunger Stats
  2. WHO (2011), Obesity and Overweight
  3. Friends of the Earth (2010), Healthy Planet Eating
  4. UNESCO (2010), The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products
  5. Centre for Energy and Environmental Studies (2005), Food and Land Use. The Influence of Consumption Patterns on the Use of Agricultural Resources
  6. USFDA (2009), Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals
  7. USFDA (2009), Sales of Antibacterial Drugs in Kilograms
  8. Nature (2006), Modelling Conservation in the Amazon Basin
  9. UNFAO (2006), Livestock's Long Shadow
  10. The Huffington Post (2010), HuffPost's Greatest Person Of The Day: Barbara Kowalcyk, Food Safety Advocate
  11. STWR (2005), Farm Subsidies: The Report Card

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