Factory farming has been a topic of great discussion lately, and for good reason. Firstly, it is an issue of animal cruelty, which is in the public mind more than ever before. Secondly, it involves the environmental impact that factory farms are known to create.
Some factory farming companies are well known, and the public tends to follow their work. However, there are a few companies gaining ground in the field that are lesser known within the industry.
Surprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry owns quite a lot of the farming businesses. This is a fact not widely discussed, outside of those who work in the industry. Companies that sell farms their products want us to believe that they work first and foremost in the business of animal health.
However, the details are a bit more complicated. It is true that pharmacies provide products for animals, but these drugs are not always needed.
Elanco Animal Health is one of the largest corporations working in the field of animal health. Recently, the company has made a major financial step, purchasing one of the largest companies in their field. Bayer Animal Health became a part of Elanco Animal Health, in a deal worth 7.6 billion dollars.
The merger gained the attention of the general public, as it was a clear sign that the industry is quickly becoming monopolized. This is a part of the farming industry and related pollutions that desperately needs to be addressed.
Bayers is already well known to the public for its controversies: most infamous being their work for the Nazis during World War 2 to produce deadly gas. The company also produced a drug that was later deemed responsible for the deaths of 32 people. Bayer was also behind a bee-killing pesticide, heavily criticized for its impact on the ecosystem.
Elanco owes its growth to a series of gradual acquisitions, and is now one of the industry’s largest competitors. It is the second largest company working in the field, with over 5,800 companies employed in ninety countries.
The biggest of these expansions was made in 2014, after the company acquired the drug company Novartis AG. It added 600 new products to its line, along with 3,000 employees and nine new manufacturing sites. It was also an entry into a new, aquaculture market.
The vaccines market is a new and thriving sector that pharmaceutical companies are vying for. The goal for Elanco is to grow their vaccines production by 5% each year. At this point, farmers use antibiotics on their livestock as preventative measures, and there are efforts from both the governments and public consumers to change this.
Vaccines will likely come into replace the use of antibiotics in many cases. Blumberg describes the issue in the following statement:
A 2015 study estimated the global animal-vaccine market will be worth $7.2 billion by 2020, up from $5.5 billion in 2010. Already, about one-third of the industry’s revenue is from vaccines, according to company and industry officials. The company [Elanco] expects European approval to market Clynav: a DNA vaccine for North Atlantic salmon to fight pancreatic diseases. The company is also working on a new vaccine for bovine respiratory disease.
Overwhelmingly, the answer is no. These drugs aren’t something that animals or consumers necessarily need, or benefit from. It may decrease the cost of meat production, but it also comes with health-related downsides for all involved.
It is important to look towards alternatives, specifically in regards to sustainable and eco-friendly farms. This is the best way to ensure that your food is healthy, and produced in responsible ways.
Elanco is one of the world’s largest animal pharmacies, and has grown via purchasing other, smaller companies such as Bayer Animal Health. The industry is not providing vital services, and its monopolizing tendencies should be addressed by means of alterative farming methods.