Foodborne illness is still the most prevalent risk with food. It’s made even more so by high-density, low-sanitation livestock facilities, among other factory farm practices, which spread disease frighteningly rapidly.
Heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium are occasionally found in food; ingesting heavy metals can lead to serious cases of poisoning, as well as related diseases like Minamata disease from mercury and Itai-Itai disease from cadmium.
Pesticides are a food contaminant that warrant special mention. Pesticides are used in many agricultural operations, from fruit and vegetable production to animal feeding operations. Exposure to pesticides has been linked to infertility, birth defects, nervous system damage, poisoning, and even cancer.
Widespread overuse of antibiotics can cause the development of antibiotic resistant diseases and infections. Bacteria can rapidly evolve this trait with prolonged exposure to antibiotics and using antibiotics in a preventative manner rather than therapeutically can lead to diseases and infections that are untreatable.
Agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution. Soil degradation, water and air contamination, destruction of ecosystems, and climate change are some of the negative ecological consequences of agricultural operations. While there is increasing awareness of these issues and innovative attempts to address them, the de facto practices of the agriculture industry remain troubling.