Climate and health crises driven by factory farms across Europe, says new report

Campaigners urge EU to phase out all factory farms by 2040

Read the report: The Urgent Case to Stop Factory Farms in Europe

Brussels, October 8 – Factory-farmed meat production in the EU is on the rise, and is putting the climate and human health at risk according to a new report released today from Food & Water Action Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe.

A rise in industrial meat production in the European Union has been accompanied by a rapid decline in the number of small farms. This has led to a dangerous rise of “factory farms”, characterised by large numbers of animals confined in crowded spaces.

The report reveals that:

  • Unsafe working conditions on factory farms and slaughterhouses put workers in danger and increase the spread of diseases including COVID-19;
  • Global production of soybeans for animal feed, and the resulting deforestation, are exacerbating the climate crisis, constituting around 7% of all greenhouse gas emissions originating from human activity;
  • The European meat sector is dominated by a few large corporations who are increasing in size through mergers and acquisitions. Vertical integration threatens the existence of small-scale farmers, drops the prices for producers and leaves all the profits with agribusiness;
  • The routine dosing of antibiotics to factory farmed animals is increasing the risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria ending up in meat;
  • Manure from livestock farming severely contributes to air pollution (namely via ammonia emissions) and water pollution (via nitrate outputs) – a serious health risk for people living near factory farms.

Stanka Becheva, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “Intensive animal farming is on the rise in Europe and it has already had devastating impacts on nature, peasant farming, our health and rural areas. The COVID-19 crisis has proved the fragility and inhumanity of the system which makes cheap meat possible, and how much it depends on unethical and unfair conditions for workers. We need urgent action from EU and national policy makers to change this.

David Sánchez Carpio, director of EU affairs at Food & Water Action Europe said: “The rise of factory farming in Europe is the result of misguided political choices. The European Commission should use the Farm to Fork strategy to shift this trend, ban factory farms in Europe and to support a just transition into a socially and environmentally friendly livestock sector.”

The European Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy pledges to reduce the environmental and climate impact of animal production. However, no concrete actions are suggested to tackle the root causes of the problem.

Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Action Europe are calling on the European Commission use its upcoming ‘legislative framework for sustainable food systems’ to:

  • Propose concrete action to stop the construction of new factory farms and phase out existing ones by 2040.
  • Develop a transition fund for workers in factory farms and the meat industry to shift into more sustainable jobs
  • Support sustainable small-scale livestock producers and decentralised meat processing facilities that contribute to rural development



Más de treinta eurodiputados piden la paralización de la macrogranja de las 20.000 vacas en Noviercas (Soria)

En Inglés

Madrid, Bruselas — Treinta y tres eurodiputadas y eurodiputados de seis grupos políticos y once países han remitido hoy una carta [1] al Gobierno español y castellanoleonés para pedir la paralización del proyecto para construir una macrogranja con más de 23.000 vacas en la provincia de Soria [2]. Si este proyecto se lleva a cabo, sería la mayor granja lechera de la Unión Europea y abriría las puertas a un modelo de ganadería industrial importado de EE.UU. que no tiene cabida en Europa.

Una coalición de asociaciones ecologistas, movimientos locales y sindicatos agrarios [3] se opone a este proyecto por sus potenciales impactos sobre la economía rural, el medio ambiente, la población, la calidad del aire y del agua de la zona y el impacto global de la ganadería industrial en el cambio climático.

David Sánchez, portavoz de Food & Water Europe afirmó: “Los gobiernos central y autonómico no pueden permitir que este modelo de ganadería industrial llegue a Europa. Sus impactos en EEUU están ya más que documentados, no ayuda a las zonas rurales y no tiene nada que ver con el modelo de agricultura y alimentación que demandan las personas consumidoras”.

Florent Marcellesi, eurodiputado y firmante de la carta afirmó: “La UE no puede seguir permitiendo la preocupante proliferación de macrogranjas como la de Noviercas que además de convertir a España en el estercolero de Europa, destruyen empleos, nuestra salud, el medio ambiente, el clima y las oportunidades en el mundo rural. Ya hemos llevado esta batalla a Bruselas y desde aquí seguimos trabajando para que la UE apueste cuanto antes por un modelo agroalimentario sostenible, saludable, respetuoso con los animales y que contribuya al desarrollo del mundo rural”


[1] La carta y el listado de firmantes está disponible aquí.

[2] Más información sobre el Proyecto está disponible en:




[3] La coalición incluye, entre otros, a Greenpeace, Amigos de la Tierra, Ecologistas en Acción, COAG y Food & Water Europe.


David Sánchez Carpio, Food & Water Europe, +32 (0) 2893 1045, +34 616206942, dsanchez(at)

Florent Marcellesi, +3222837743, [email protected]

EU Vote Key to Keeping Clones Out of Our Food

January 16, 2015—Brussels. Next Wednesday, members of the EU Environment Committee will vote on measures that are a critical step toward keeping clones out of Europe’s food supply.

The European Commission is proposing a new regulation that clarifies and consolidates the rules governing the trade and import of breeding animals and their breeding material, like semen, ova and embryos, which are routinely used to breed farm animals.

MEPs have tabled amendments to the proposed regulation that would require the documentation that already accompanies such transactions to indicate if the animal or breeding material is the product of cloning or clone descendants.

Food & Water Europe Food Policy Analyst Eve Mitchell said, “Congratulations to our MEPs for spotting that the Commission seems to have forgotten about clones in its draft. Farmers have a right to know what they are buying, and we need to know where clones are so we can keep them out of our food.”

The EU trade in breeding material with the U.S. is a particular concern because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers clones safe to eat and does not require any labeling. In 2010 the U.S. Secretary for Agriculture admitted he didn’t know if clones are in the U.S. food supply. What’s worse, there is only a voluntary moratorium standing between EU importers and U.S. farmers or breeders. “Europe needs to protect itself with reasonable controls,” said Mitchell. “Cloning for food should be an open and shut case.”

In 2008 the European Group on Ethics in Science and Technology said cloning for food is not justified because of the suffering it causes. The Parliament voted for a full ban on all clones and their offspring in July 2010, and called for a formal moratorium until such laws could be brought forward. In 2011 the Commission, Council and Parliament all agreed that tracing clones would be needed for whatever rules on cloning are finally enacted.

Yet the Commission isn’t keeping up. It tabled “provisional” rules in 2013 that ban food from clones but not food from clone offspring. Those rules also controversially rejected the Parliament’s call for clear labels on such foods, offered as a compromise after years of wrangling over a ban, saying the work needed to secure labels would be “disproportionate” and therefore “cannot be justified” because it would require “meticulous investigation into the accompanying documentation”. This is exactly the kind of documentation discussed in this new regulation, so ensuring those papers note where cloning is used is essential for labeling if clone offspring are sold as food.

Mitchell added, “We are assured that our meat if fully traceable, and that this will be reinforced after the EU-wide contamination of meat supplies with horsemeat last year, so checking documentation cannot possibly be considered too onerous. Labels on meat from clone offspring are perfectly possible and the very least we should expect.”

Food & Water Europe believes the Commission approach to cloning in food is hypocritical and ethically indefensible. Since you can’t have clone offspring without clones, and since cloning is clearly cruel and unnecessary, all food from clones and their offspring should be banned. Anything short of a full ban makes clear labels non-negotiable.

Mitchell said, “The revelation in August 2010 that clones were in the UK food supply clearly demonstrated the need for regulation and enforcement. We must ensure that any new laws are future proofed to enable the full ban on clones and their offspring in our food that the Parliament, the public and common sense demand.”

Eve Mitchell, Food & Water Europe (UK time), +44(0)1381 610 740, [email protected]