It has been known for a while that the meat industry contributes to emissions leading to global warming. However, the meat industry has now been labelled as responsible for the worst dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico on record.
What is a dead zone?
Toxins, such as nitrates, from agricultural activities including spreading fertilizers and manure are leaching into waterways creating oxygen deprived water, starving thousands of fish of the oxygen they need to survive. Nitrates, and other toxins, allow algae to multiply into thick blooms which cause oxygen levels to plummet in waterways. This pollution flows downstream towards the coast and eventually ends up in the Gulf of Mexico. Consequentially, in these areas with extremely high levels of pollution, aquatic life is decimated causing dead zones.
According to a new report published by Mighty Earth, Tyson Foods, the US’s largest meat company, is at the forefront of those driving these toxins into waterways. Tyson produces one out of every five pounds of meat in the United States and according to Mighty, 170 per cent more pollution is dumped into the Gulf each year than was spilled by BP in 2010. This pollution is causing an ecological crisis; fish are dying in their thousands.
A Tyson spokeswoman told the Guardian: “We don’t agree with the group’s characterization of our company but share its interest in protecting the environment.
“It’s true the livestock and poultry industry is a major buyer of grain for feed, however, the report fails to note that a large percentage of corn raised in the US is used for biofuel and that a significant portion is used for human consumption.
“Tyson Foods is focused on continuous improvement. We are constantly looking to improve and lead the industry, so that we can deliver sustainable food to people every day at a scale that matters to the world.”
Campaign and Petition
Mighty Earth campaign director Lucia von Reusner has said: “Americans should not have to choose between producing food and having healthy clean water.
“Big meat companies like Tyson have left a trail of pollution across the country, and have a responsibility to their customers and the public to clean it up.”
Mighty have created a petition calling on Tyson’s CEO to clean up the polluted waterways. Sign it here.