Intensive Livestock Farming: Global Trends, Increased Environmental Concerns, and Ethical Solutions


By 2050, global livestock production is expected to double—growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector—with most of this increase taking place in the developing world. As the United Nation’s four-hundred-page report, Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, documents, livestock production is now one of three most significant contributors to environmental problems, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions, land degradation, water pollution, and increased health problems. The paper draws on the UN report as well as a flurry of other recently published studies in order to demonstrate the effect of intensive livestock production on global warming and on people’s health. The paper’s goal is to outline the problems caused by intensive livestock farming and analyze a number of possible solutions, including legislative changes and stricter regulations, community mobilizing, and consumers choosing to decrease their demand for animal products.

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I appreciate the helpful feedback I received from several anonymous reviewers. I am also grateful to Gregory Oschwald, Jeff Breintenfeldt, and Michelle Bingaman.

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Correspondence to Ramona Cristina Ilea.

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Ilea, R.C. Intensive Livestock Farming: Global Trends, Increased Environmental Concerns, and Ethical Solutions. J Agric Environ Ethics 22, 153–167 (2009).

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  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Environment
  • Ethics
  • Farming
  • Livestock
  • Meat