World Watch Magazine May/June 2003

Thursday, April 17, 2003
12:00 NOON EDT, 1600 GMT

World Watch Magazine

May/June 2003


Washington, D.C.— Large-scale expansion of factory farming into developing countries such as Mexico, India, China, and the Philippines is bringing unanticipated dangers to environmental and human health, according to the May/June 2003 edition of the Worldwatch Institute’s magazine, World Watch. While increasing the production of meat, the mass-producing facilities threaten the survival of indigenous livestock and are contributing to groundwater pollution, the spread of food-borne illnesses, and antibiotic resistance, writes researcher Danielle Nierenberg in “Factory Farming in the Developing World.”

“Factory farming methods are creating a web of food safety, animal welfare, and environmental problems around the world, as large agribusinesses attempt to escape tighter environmental restrictions in the European Union and the U.S. by moving their animal production operations to less developed countries,” says Nierenberg.

Nierenberg’s investigation focuses particularly on the Philippines, one of the emerging centers of large-scale livestock production and processing in the developing world. In that country alone, annual production of poultry has increased five-fold since 1980. This industrialization of livestock production nearly wiped out the stock of native Filipino chickens and forced most family farmers out of business or into adopting factory farming methods themselves.

International regulations on factory farming and an improved process of zoning farms in economically viable places with the least environmental impact are only part of the solution, asserts Nierenberg. She also argues that the lessons of factory farming should prevent its continued expansion and should translate into the preservation of prosperous family farms where raising healthy, humanely treated animals is viewed as a form of affluence.


Local communities are increasingly resisting the multinational food conglomerates that control and shape global food production and distribution, writes Brian Halweil in the May/June 2003 edition of World Watch. From the owner of a diner in Vermont to the Nine Seeds Movement in India, local activists are taking matters in their own hands in attempts to guide food systems back to their local roots.

“We are beginning to see declarations of independence from the existing system in which the Krafts, Monsantos, and Archer Daniels Midlands play the roles of the Tudors, Tzars, and Louis XIVs in our modern food systems,” says Halweil in “The Argument for Local Food.” The article documents how these activists, propelled by more than concern over food safety risks, are working toward a more democratic system of producing food.

Money spent locally on food generates nearly twice as much income for the local economy, according to Halweil. In addition, local food systems promote greater crop diversity and reduce costly dependence on fossil fuels. Greater food self-sufficiency could also prove particularly important for developing countries that want to achieve a certain measure of independence from the fluctuations of international markets and the constraints of international trade agreements.


Oil has been at the root of wars from Angola to Indonesia. Nevertheless, supporters of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq insist that oil is not a major reason for the invasion. World Watch editor Ed Ayres cites numerous other wars in which oil has played a role, and questions whether the spoils of this war may not figure more prominently than the administration’s “free world” argument after all.

  • Essay: The widening nuclear danger, with commentary from U.S. Senator Richard Lugar.
  • Between the Lines: What they love—war for the adults, war toys for the kids.
  • Environmental Intelligence: Global-warming emissions trading begins; European wind-energy production reaches new high; Canadian fish farms infect wild salmon; sari cloth filtration reduces cholera; barriers get higher for immigrants and refugees.
  • Matters of Scale: Trouble in the pipeline—security threats in the oil infrastructure

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