Mexican Activists Pushing for Factory Farm Regulations

Last night I spent two hours talking to a group of mostly female Mexican environmentalists and animal advocates. They're all members of Associaciones Protectoras de Animales de Mexico (APASDEM). In one of the member's apartments-located conveniently above an organic market-we talked about the state of farming and livestock for food production in Mexico.

The picture is not a pretty one. It's not only the factory farms located here that are causing problems, but also slaughterhouses. Unfortunately, the spread of disease and pollution from animal agriculture doesn't end with the lives of the animals at slaughterhouses. The APASDEM members told me that there are only 3 or 4 slaughterhouses in the whole country that are federally inspected. That means that more than 50 percent of the meat eaten here is not inspected. The rest is processed in underground slaughterhouses that don't have to follow humane slaughtering practices or manage the waste, including blood and manure, that comes from these facilities.

Although there are no research or advocacy groups devoted to improving farm animal welfare or factory farming practices in Mexico, this group of activist hopes to change things. They told me there's a saying here in Mexico: "What is inside is outside and what is outside is inside." So, if we're raising animals that are sick from being crowded together in filthy conditions and consuming them, it affects our own health.

They're pushing for stronger enforcement of laws that regulate animal transport, inspection of slaughterhouses, and protection of water supplies from pollution by factory farms. Mexico has good laws in place to do some of these things, but they're not enforced.

I learned a lot from them. Although, I came here to present at a conference at the Congreso, I ended up learning more than I actually "taught" anyone. That's the best thing about traveling.