We entered a chicken farm with national TV cameras
Once again, we brought the reality of factory farming to national TV! The investigation was broadcast in the second part of the evening on Tv7 and was seen by almost 600,000 people. If you missed it, read this article to find out what we did.
We took the journalist Rosita Rosa of Tv7, a weekly in-depth programme by TG1, to an intensive chicken farm to document the conditions of the animals. The broadcast focused on the role of factory farming in deforestation in South America, the living conditions of the animals and the consequences of meat consumption on human health.
Soy and factory farming
The report, entitled A tavola col Pianeta (At the table with the Planet), opened with the Greenpeace campaign in the port of Ravenna. Activists climbed onto soybean silos to denounce deforestation due to soy production and the role of intensive livestock farming in this issue. As the journalist explains, Italy has become the fourth largest importer of soy grown in South America, where monocultures are destroying biodiversity, draining rivers and endangering the lives of environmental defenders.
In addition, the soy produced in these territories is mostly GMO and requires the extensive use of plant protection products that are harmful to ecosystems. These include glyphosate, patented by Monsanto, which in 2015 was defined by the IARC (the International Agency for Research on Cancer) as ‘likely to be carcinogenic to humans’.
Contrary to what one might think, almost all the soy we import does not end up in plant-based drinks or tofu but is used to feed the animals imprisoned on Italian factory farms. Soy forms the basis of the feed of millions of animals, especially chickens and pigs. With a high protein content, this legume allows for rapid muscle growth while keeping costs low.
At this point, the journalist’s story moves to an intensive chicken farm on the border with Emilia Romagna and Veneto where I accompanied her in person. The images show how the most frequently slaughtered land animals in Italy live: 9 out of 10 chickens in our country are bred intensively, i.e. in dark sheds into which they are crammed in their thousands.
The journalist immediately comments on the pungent smell of ammonia that comes from the excrement of the animals. As I explain to her, Italian chickens spend their entire short lives – only six weeks – on the same litter in contact with urine and faeces. The feathers that rest on the ground are therefore sparse, falling out as a result of the constant contact with ammonia. And it doesn’t stop there: because of the genetic selection that causes their breasts to grow disproportionately large, the chickens are also deformed. Their legs are not strong enough to support the unnatural weight of their bodies, so they often become lame or die as they are unable to feed.
Under these conditions, as I continue to explain, it is impossible to identify sick chickens and treat them individually: for this reason, farmers administer antibiotics and medicines to all the animals on a preventive basis, in the water they drink on a daily basis. A practice that is worrying experts as it can contribute to the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance, which in Italy kills 10,000 people every year and has been defined as a ‘silent pandemic’ by the European Commission.
The impact of meat on health
Maria Cristina Mele, Director of Clinical Nutrition at the Policlinico Gemelli in Rome, was interviewed for the programme and said the following: “Much of what we see in hospitals also seems to be derived from what we eat before we are hospitalised. If we spend years eating meat that still contains traces of antibiotics, our entire system – especially the intestinal microbiota – is negatively impacted by the presence of these antibiotics and resistant bacteria will proliferate.”
As for tumours, Mele states that the scientific community now has hundreds of thousands of observations and all these studies indicate an increased risk of developing cancer, especially in the colorectal area, for those who consume a significant amount of meat per day. For women, however, the risk has been ascertained with regard to breast cancer. In fact, in 2015 the IARC defined red meat as probably carcinogenic and processed meat as definitely carcinogenic.
Help us to show the truth
The investigation that aired last night is only a fraction of the work that we are carrying out and are about to make public. In addition, it represents just a fraction of the countless days and nights that our investigation team spends on monitoring, documenting and reporting farms and slaughterhouses.
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