All the Google alerts I have set for “soil” have recently brought up articles that discuss how animal manure is “sustainable.”
Well, it’s not. And let me tell you why.
What if we never had all that extra poop to find profitable ways to reuse? Just imagine how much good that would do for our environment. Commercial animal slaughterhouses have so much manure filled with antibiotics and hormones, and they need to find ways to dispose of it. What better way than to get paid for it to be used in our soils?
Instead of making fertilizers from commercial food-producing animals, why not just stop making those food-producing animals? The animals in these slaughterhouses are not born out of the earth’s natural balances. And the more animals brought into our world for food, the more animal waste we have to find ways to get rid of.
How is that sustainable?
Additionally, we live at a time when existing bacteria that cause disease are becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics used in hospitals and prescribed by doctors. Humans are becoming immune to these antibiotics – potentially because we’re already digesting them without our knowledge every day.
A recent analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council conducted with the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy estimated that 65% of medically important antibiotics sold in the United States are being used in food-producing species, compared with 35% in humans. That means, even if you aren’t taking any antibiotics yourself, you’re probably still consuming them.
The FDA reported yet another rise in antibiotic sales for livestock in 2019. This means that non-vegans are digesting antibiotics twice, once in their meats and then again in food from the ground that is fertilized by manure from those animals. For the plant-based and vegans among us, we are still inadvertently consuming antibiotics because they are in our soil thanks to the animal-based agriculture used by many of today’s farmers who grow our produce.
Professor Ian Henderson, the Director of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, explained the dangers of our growing resistance to antibiotics in a very clear way. “I want you to imagine what the world without antibiotics would look like, ” he said.
“It means that you can’t have that cesarean section when you’re giving birth.
“It means that your mum and your dad can’t have those cancer treatments because they’re going to destroy their immune systems and they’re going to become susceptible to infection.
“It means that you can’t have that transplant because when you have that surgery, you become susceptible to infection.”
So why then are we calling the use of animal manure sustainable? Because surely if we keep farming our animals for livestock and pumping them with antibiotics to keep growing the livestock industry, it won’t be sustainable for human health much longer. Doesn’t it seem like the most logical step is to stop the livestock industry so that there’s less antibiotic-filled manure that we have to find a purpose for?