Today is a full-day of presentations, panels, tabling, and scrumptious selection of vegan food at Farm Sanctuary’s Conference to End Factory Farming. The event is taking place at the Westin Arlington Gateway, just outside Washington, D.C.
The day is just about half-way through, and already there has been an impressive slew of speakers and presentations.
The morning began with Farm Sanctuary president and co-founder, Gene Baur, who spoke about the rise of modern agribusiness. He mentioned an encouraging statistic, 11% of fruits and vegetables sold in the United States are organic. He also encouraged the audience to challenge the assumption that we need to eat animal products (a view heavily pressed upon us by the meat, egg, and dairy industries).
Up next was Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., an export in ethology (the study of animal behavior). He spoke about the sentience and suffering of farmed animals, challenging the “Big Ag” assumption that animals are not as sentient as humans because their brains are smaller. He also described a startling statistic, that 300 chickens are killed every second in the United States.
Dr. Michael Greger, director of public health and animal agriculture at HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) brought another perspective to the dialogue with his lecture on the the effects of factory farming on public health. Dr. Greger discussed the pandemic breakout of the swine and bird flu at the end of the 20th century, and its resurgence in the 21st century, attributing the spread of the disease to the way we raise and farm animals.
Following Dr. Greger was Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch. Ms. Hunter discussed factory farming’s consolidation in the United States, and the devastating effects of the waste of such practices. She also spoke about small farmer livelihood, stating that the currect farm share of each food dollar is now only $0.19.
The presentations continue into the evening, through tomorrow afternoon.
Image by Farm Sanctuary