Speaker to discuss effects of animal factory farms

Factory-like conditions at farms where the nation’s meat is raised are leading to devastating ramifications on the environment and consumers’ health, said the coordinator of a student animal-welfare group.

Veronika Terrian, founder and coordinator of People for Animal Welfare, said not only are pigs at a factory farm living in unhealthy conditions where disease can spread, but the runoff from waste can pollute waterways, and the smell of the farms can spread to the community.

These ramifications will be the topic of a discussion led by John Pippin at 7 p.m. Thursday in Sid Richardson Lecture Hall 2.

Pippin, a cardiologist and a Harvard graduate, is former director of cardiovascular medicine at the Cooper Clinic and currently a senior medical and research adviser for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The Partnership for Animal Welfare is sponsoring the event along with Peace Action and the Philosophy Club.

According to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which Pippin said was one of the most comprehensive to date, animal agriculture is the No. 1 cause of greenhouse gases, as well as a cause of major land and water damage.

Margaret Morin, president and founder of the Vegetarian Network of Dallas, said this pollution is endangering the future of Earth by contributing to global warming.

Pippin said factory farm conditions were the most important cause of global warming, but many global-warming activists do not talk about it because change would be a difficult process.

“When we look at the causes of global warming, we deal with the things we think we can fix,” Pippin said. “The one thing we’re avoiding is the one thing that needs to be changed the most.

“If you do not change the way you eat, you cannot change the global warming problem.”

Morin said the recent concerns of food safety, particularly the Feb. 17 recall of 143 million pounds of beef, the largest in American history, were a direct result of factory conditions. She said many farms no longer allow animals to graze, but rather keep them in dark stalls with no room to move around and force-feed them through tubes with antibiotics and hormones to keep them alive.

Terrian said many meat producers are only interested in the bottom line. She said the event would enlighten people who are often too dependent on the agriculture industry for their health and safety.

“There are no windows in the meat industry to see what’s going on,” Terrian said. “As consumers, we have a right to see what we consume.”

Terrian also said the feed is imported from other countries, which never receive anything back, because the meat is consumed here. Terrian said if all the feed were redirected, the entire world could be fed.

Pippin said he will present his findings to the audience, backing it up with sources such as the New York Times and the Huffington Post and answer questions from the audience both during and after the presentation.

Morin said TCU was the perfect environment for Pippin’s presentation because college students would have open minds to what Pippin has to say.

“That’s what college is supposed to do: expose students to new ideas that we wouldn’t know otherwise,” Morin said.

Terrian also expressed her hopes for all students, as well as faculty, to attend.

“Everybody can learn something from this event,” Terrian said. “It’s just not about the environment or the animals, it’s that we know what we put in our bodies.”

For Your Info

Who: John J. Pippin
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Sid Richardson Lecture Hall 2