Big Chicken and the Environment

Saturday, August 19, 2000; Page A18
Washington Post

I read Anita Huslin's Aug. 9 Metro story, "Md. Aims to Tighten Chicken Waste Rules," regarding tighter regulations on poultry waste. This is long overdue, as the poultry industry dumps more than a billion pounds of waste annually into the Chesapeake Bay.

Even a large waterway can absorb only so much shock. Poultry produces more liquid waste than all of Maryland's human population. Worse yet, the waste is laden with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In Ms. Huslin's story, the industry suggests burning the waste as an alternative. I wonder what the impact of burning a billion pounds of urine and manure would be on greenhouse gases? Industry spokesmen predictably complained of "more government intrusion." This sounds like rhetoric from other socially irresponsible industries. Poultry executives claim they provide many jobs, but what about those whose livelihood depends on a clean bay? Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are converted to livestock manure. In the meantime, our land loses more topsoil every year. If we are to save our waterways, society must shift to a plant-based diet that produces no water pollution or greenhouse gases and feeds many more people per acre. Medical research shows that plant protein is just as healthy as animal protein, without the unhealthy cholesterol, saturated fat and carcinogens.



All of these waste-management troubles would be alleviated to some degree if more Americans went vegetarian. Yet the demand for chicken consumption continues to be strong. I hope that articles such as The Post'sdiscourage American consumers from the habit of supporting this cruel and filthy industry.


Doylestown, Pa.

Thank you for the article by Anita Huslin.

Bravo to the Maryland regulators for getting tough with the big chicken industrialists. They need to keep their chicken dung out of our rivers. The rivers belong to the people, not to individuals such as Charles C. "Chick" Allen III, who, like other chicken industrialists, enjoys the profit but doesn't enjoy the responsibility the profit entails.

Once we get the chicken dung out of our rivers, the next step will be to get rid of the salmonella, E. coli and other bacteria spread by this industry. After that, maybe we can educate people that chickens are sensitive creatures that don't deserve the brutality and cruelty with which this industry treats them.


New York

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