Meat industry worst among food-based industries in terms of water management

The meat industry lags behind other industries within the food sector in terms of water resource management, a report published by a Boston-based nonprofit on November 5, 2019, has said.

“The global food and agri-business sector is worth $5 trillion and is operating within the world’s growing water crisis,” Feeding Ourselves Thirsty, published by Ceres, said.

“Over 70 per cent of the world’s fresh water is used to grow crops, feed livestock and process ingredients,” it added.

The report noted that meat production was one of the biggest polluters of watersheds globally.

The document cited the example of Smithfield Foods, a pork processor and producing company based in Smithfield, Virginia, United States. The company has been repeatedly accused of causing pollution of groundwater due to its lagoons (a pig waste collection slurry) leaching pig urine and excreta into the ground during rains.

This happened especially during Hurricane Florence in 2018 in North Carolina. But even before that, the company was dealing with lawsuits brought about by local residents over bad smells and potential diseases that were being caused by hog waste. The company has been ordered to pay $100 million in compensatory and punitive damages, the report stated.

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