Factory Farming and alternative protein

  • IASbaba
  • June 8, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 

Factory Farming and alternative protein

Context: The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought attention to the dietary habits of people, especially the dependence on meat for proteins

What is factory farming?

  • Large-scale, industrial animal agriculture for meat, eggs, and dairy is called factory farming
  • It involves raising food animals that concentrates large numbers of animals into confined spaces. 
  • To prevent disease spreading and encourage growth, drug programs such as antibiotics, vitamins, hormones and other supplements are heavily administered to these animals
  • It is also known as intensive animal farming or industrial livestock production

Hazards of factory farming

  • Energy Intensive: Our need for animal protein uses vast tracts of land and quantities of water to raise those animals, to graze them, and to grow crops to feed them
  • Global Warming: It contributes more to climate change than emissions from the entire transportation sector. 
  • Environmental Degradation: Factory farming leads to imbalance in ecology causing species loss, and habitat destruction.
  • Health risk: It creates and increases planetary health risks at every scale. These animals are also the sources of viral outbreaks of swine flu and avian flu
  • Unethical: Confining animals in closed spaces usually leads to their discomfort, pain, injuries and distress. This is against welfare of animals and is protested by civil society.
  • Antibiotic resistance: Antibiotic use in livestock may create antibiotic-resistant pathogens which then infiltrate into the entire food-chain.
  • Against Small farmers: Factory farming requires heavy investment on land and machineries so as to achieve economies of scale. Thus, it is biased in favour of corporate players and affects livelihood of small & marginal players
  • Prone to market Shock: These products are dependent on global forces of demand & supply. Hence, a policy change in developed country will impact this industry in developing countries as well.

Way Ahead

  • Stimulating research and entrepreneurship in alternative proteins
  • Alternative protein involves making upgraded versions of meat, eggs, and dairy from plant or crop ingredients, or directly from animal cells.
  • These foods satisfy consumers and producers without taking away their choice, because they taste the same, are used in exactly the same way, but are vastly better for planetary health
  • Countries like Singapore and Canada are already making alternative protein a central piece of their food security story, with an emphasis on research, entrepreneurship, and self-sufficiency.

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