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Tyson Foods: The Cause of the Giant Dead Zone in the Mexican Gulf

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Companies and corporations that are involved in the meat industry use industrial-grade agriculture and scale to cultivate their animals which is the top contributing factor of water pollution in the United States. The global meat industry has constantly been under fire and implication for driving deforestation and global warming into concerning degrees; however, one of their most recent damages is the infamous “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the year 2017, a corporate giant in the meat industry has been directly involved in an environmental disaster also known as the giant dead zone. Tyson Foods, regarded as the largest meat producer in the United States, was pointed out to be the cause of the damage. When you ask people about Tyson Foods, they would probably answer somewhere along the lines of a behemoth company in the food industry, beef, or as the giant that caused the largest dead zone in all of United States history. 

Tyson Foods

Who is Tyson Foods?

Founded in the mid-1990s, Tyson Foods Incorporated first made it through the news not as a poultry producer but rather because of their alleged political affiliations to the Clinton administration. Allegedly, Bill Clinton showed favoritism towards Tyson with personal services and tax breaks as he was the governor of Arkansas during that time. With that, Clinton accepted the presidential campaign fund from Tyson Foods Inc. 

The history of the company started with John Tyson. He first named it “Tyson Feed & Hatchery”, selling chickens to Chicago in 1935. After that, Tyson eventually incorporated in 1947, and significantly expanded after World War II.  John Tyson’s son, Don Tyson, joined the business in 1952, and the company further expanded its production facilities. A huge processing plant then stood at the site of the company in Arkansas. They introduced an ice-pack processing line, which launched the company into competition with others.

As the years have progressed, so did the massive demand for Tyson’s products and services. With that, Tyson Food Inc. also scaled its operations and processing up into the giant company that they are now. Moreover, they also own multiple companies and are loyal partners with other massive international food companies.  Tyson Foods, which owns multiple brands including Ball Park, Sara Lee, Hillshire Farm, numerous groceries, and supplied food chains such as Walmart and McDonald’s has been consistently in the ranks of the top polluters in the United States.

What Happened in the Gulf of Mexico? 

Reports say that Tyson Foods is the only meat company in the country that has major processing facilities in every state, as listed by the United States Geological Survey, that contributes the highest levels of pollution into the Gulf of Mexico. As the one responsible for 1 in every 5 pounds of meat produced in the United States, Tyson’s operations include but are not limited to slaughtering up to 35 million chickens and a quarter million head of cattle weekly while requiring 5 million acres of corn a year for the necessary feed.

This huge demand for chicken, beef, and pork results in Tyson producing over 55 million tons of manure in the year 2016, as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency. With that, a concerning amount of 104 million tons of pollutants have been released into the waterways in the past decade. The largest dead zone in history extends to more than 8,000 square miles, where there is a zero survival rate for marine life. The Gulf of Mexico got so damaged drastically that it stimulated an overgrowth of algae, further leading to hypoxia which caused marine life to either die or flee. 

Affecting The Drinking Water Source

Most of the company’s contamination and pollution is due to their massive use of quantities of soy and corn growth to raise meat animals. As a result, pollution does not just stop in the Gulf of Mexico as it extends to drinking waterResearch also shows that every year, up to 7 million Americans are at risk of exposure to concerning levels of nitrate contamination in their drinking water, as reported by a statement issued by the Environmental Working Group. 

Additionally, the group discovered that in 2015, the water systems that supplied over 7 million people across 48 states possessed harmful high levels of nitrates. Moreover, this concern is linked to increased risks of contracting cancer. Studies also reveal that more metric tons of pollution flowed into the Gulf which amounted to around 1.15 million according to USGS than oil leaked in the BP Deepwater disaster which was almost 700,000 metric tons. 

What Should Be Done? 

Considering America’s growing appetite for meat is a huge factor that drove this harmful pollution and contamination across landscapes, experts have expressed their concerns and calls to have companies such as Tyson to develop and improve their processes and regulation. Mighty Earth launched a campaign that aims to reveal Tyson Food’s role in contributing to the major cause of pollution – their process of livestock and animal feed production. According to them, only a small part of large food companies control feed production, yet do so much damage. 

On the other hand, the campaign director of Mighty, Lucia von Reusner, added that, perhaps, regulation is not reducing the scope of the problem. Moreover, she states that these companies should adopt sustainable practices, and consumers should also contribute to helping the environment. A solution was suggested to the meat industry, saying that the utilization of soybean and corn growers that use pollutants carrying fertilizers should be stopped. Tyson, Mighty says, should take responsibility by requiring its soybean growers to use pollution-free feed for livestock.

In the 16-page report that Mighty made, it has been found that the country’s biggest meat industries shape not only the food system on a massive scale but also the environment it co-exists with. With this, it is only imperative for companies to adapt and apply both measures and solutions that address the concerns that they contribute.

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How Whole House Water Filters Can Help

Whole house water filters are very useful in filtering out microbes and chemical contaminants from drinking water. With water contamination at large in the Mexican Gulf, investing in a water filter can be the best solution. This is to combat illnesses and provide clean and safe water for consumption. Head on over to Aqua Ox Water Filters today for more information on their products.

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