Similarities between European and American Farming:
Despite the quantitative similarities of the US and EU’s agricultural exports worldwide, together comprising over 40% of worldwide exports, the system by which the exports are produced are drastically different both in the production process, and the agricultural regulations which govern the production processes. One of the major differences between US and EU farming practices is the size of the average agricultural operation. In the EU the average size farm is 46.2 acres, while in the US the average farm size is 436 acres.
The agricultural policy in the US concentrates on safety nets and economic insurance, while EU policy focuses on income fluctuations and fixed pre-determined payments. Both governments offer incentives such as subsidies to encourage farmers to grow specific crops, however.
Here are nine different practices that America uses that European has banned or discontinued the practice of. These are significant differences in the regulation and policy of each country, also in the general farming technique of each country.
- Atrazine: Was banned in Europe in 2003. This is a weed killer that is a potent endocrine disrupter. It "chemically castrates and feminizes" wildlife and reduces immune system functioning in laboratory and wildlife research. The US uses Atrazine commonly and is common in drinking water contamination. This chemical is produced in Switzerland, however outlawed for use there. It also induces spontaneous abortions in animals and with studies, humans have similar risks.
- Arsenic in Chicken, Turkey, and Pig Feed: These are approved for use in animal feed in the United States because they make livestock grow quicker and for their meat to appear fresher. This is organic arsenic, which is less toxic than inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen. Science has found that organic arsenic can transform into inorganic arsenic and this could be the cause of the higher arsenic levels in US rice. These arsenic-based compounds have never been approved for animal feed in Europe.
- Chicken Litter in Cow Feed: This is cheap feed for cows, but as cows ingest this they could be ingesting various beef products used in chicken feed which can induce or cause Mad Cow Disease. Europe banned all forms of animal protein in cow feed in 2001, whereas America uses chicken litter in feed unrestrictedly.
- Chicken Carcass Chlorine Washes: These are used to kill pathogens, but these plus antibiotics help create "super germs" when used in animals' feed. Humans working within these plants have reported health problems such as respiratory issues. The EU has banned Chlorine Washes and will not accept any American Chicken that has been treated with this antimicrobial spray.
- Antibiotics as Growth Promoters in Livestock: Agriculture consumption is a major source of human antibiotic consumption. Animals are fed antibioticcs to precent diseases and promote growth, but these are transferred to the human as s/he eats. This aids in antibiotic-resistant diseases. The FDA ruled in 1977 that giving low antibiotic doses to livestock was bad, but continued to pander to drug industries that allow and cause the practice to continue. In Europe all antibiotic use is banned, and cannot have growth promoting purposes in feed.
- Ractopomine and Other Pharmaceutical Growth Enhancers in Animal Feed: This was banned in 160 countries across Europe, Taiwan, and China. If imported meat is found to contain any traces of this drug, it is turned away. In The United States an estimated 60-80% of pigs, 30% of beef, and an unknown percentage in birds are given this drug, even in excess days before their death to increase protein synthesis. It makes animals more muscular. In the meat there are large amounts of this and it can cause serious disabilities. Europe has banned any use of this medicine and refuses to import meat from the United States containing any trace of Ractopomine.
- Gestation Crates: 2-Foot wide cages that house breeding pigs. They are inhumane and cause severe stress to animals which have been documented as going crazy and chewing the bars off of the crates to escape. Huge pork producers use these such as Smithfield Cargill and Hormel, but has promised to phase these crates out. Europe has banned gestation crates entirely.
- Water Fluoridation: Causes weakened bones, bone cancer, lowered IQ, etc. yet US spends millions yearly to add fluoride into communal water. European countries do not fluoridate their water.
- Genetically Modified Foods (GM products, GMOs): Europe is strict on GM crops in stark contrast to America. GM crops are banned in many European countries, and all GMO foods and ingredients have to be labeled. America tries to protect and encourage the use of GMOs in agriculture and GM ingredients and foods do not have to be labeled.
This page was created for Marc Bousquet's English 363 at Emory University.