Tyson Foods: Responsible for severe environmental destruction.

Abbildung 1: Tyson Foods LKW, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas/Flickr | Bild: © Central Texas Food Bank [CC BY-ND 2.0] - Flickr

The global meat production industry contributes significantly to environmental pollution. In particular, industrial livestock farming damages both soil and ground water. A recent study, published in February 2016 by Environment America, shows specifically which dimensions of pollution are affected by individual meat producers. Environment America has examined the impact of the meat producer Tyson Foods (which in the meat producing industry is one of the largest companies in the world) on water supply and quality. The study shows that Tyson Foods is responsible for the second largest quantity of toxic contaminants in the water supply – just behind the steel company AK Steel Holding Corp. Thus, the company is far ahead of companies such as Cargill, Dupont De Nemours and ExxonMobil and has discharged more pollutants into the water than all of these companies together.1

Pollution by Tyson Foods is mainly caused by fertilisers from feed manufacturers, or by the manure of the animals. According to a US Environmental Protection Agency report, Tyson Foods is responsible for 104 million pounds of emissions between 2010 and 2014, this is about 47.6 million kg2.

Most of the pollutants entered into the groundwater by Tyson Foods are nitrate compounds, which can have harmful consequences for the environment and for human health. But in 2014 more than 9 million kilograms of pollutants reached the water supply for Tyson Foods plants. This value has been relatively consistent over the past years3. The company processes around 35 million chickens, 128 thousand cows and 401 thousand pigs a week.4

Pollution from Tyson Foods over the last 15 years, have time and again been the subject of various court cases and have cost the company more than 25 million US dollars.5

The study by Environment America has brought a global problem into the public view. The impact of waste from industrial livestock on humans and the environment, is an issue that currently the general population is only slightly aware of. John Rumpler, an attorney with Environment America, emphasises that human faeces is subject to a treatment process, while manure ends up without purification in the fields and thus in the groundwater.6 Another sensitive issue is the drugs and hormones contained in the manure.7 around 1,700 tonnes of antibiotics each year in Germany are administered to animals.8 But about 60 to 80 percent of the active ingredients are unprocessed by the animals and excreted, thus ending up in the fields and in the groundwater.9

In many regions of Germany too, the water and soil quality has also suffered due to intensive livestock farming. Some farmers have more manure than they can use themselves. Thus, manure has even been established as a commodity in Germany.10 The main problem facing German groundwater is excessively high nitrate pollution, also a consequence of fertilising with animal manure. According to the Federal Environment Agency drinking water in Deutschand is not affected by this.11

Although German meat producers do not reach the the sheer scale of Tyson Foods, the Federal Statistical Office in Germany shows that meat production is increasing. The Wiesbaden agency indicates that 8.22 million tons of meat were produced in Germany in the year, 2015.12 Thus, the meat production in Germany is growing despite a reduction in meat consumption.13

Investment funds, that include Tyson Foods .

investors in Tyson Foods according to Morningstar.


  1. Http://www.environmentamerica.org/reports/ame/america%E2%80%99s-next-top-polluter, 4/2/2016, accessed on 03.30.2016 []
  2. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/02/08/3747114/agribusiness-tyson-water-pollution/?utm_source= facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_term=water,tyson,meat&utm_campaign=Food &__surl__=IgSdW&__ots__=1455399210164&__step__=1, 08.02.2016, accesed on 30.03.2016 []
  3. http://www.environmentamerica.org/sites/environment/files/ reports / Env_Am_Tyson_v4_0.pdf, 4/2/2016, accessed on 03.30.2016 []
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grub-street/tyson-foods-could-very-we_b_9413436.html, 8/3/2016, accessed on 03.30.2016 []
  5. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/02/08/3747114/agribusiness-tyson-water-pollution/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium =post&utm_term=water,tyson,meat&utm_campaign=Food&__surl__ =IgSdW&__ots__=1455399210164&__step__=1, 08/02/2016, accessed on 30.03.2016 []
  6. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/02/08/3747114/agribusiness-tyson-water-pollution/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_term=water,tyson,meat&utm_campaign=Food&__surl__=  IgSdW&__ots__=1455399210164&__step__=1, 08/02/2016, accessed on 30.03.2016 []
  7. https://www.bund.net/fileadmin/bundnet/publikationen/landwirtschaft/140108_bund_landwirtschaft_fleischatlas_2014.pdf, January 2014 called on 30.03.2016 []
  8. Http://www.eu-koordination.de/component/content/article/2171-antibiotika-in-der-tiermast, called on 03.30.2016 []
  9. https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/presse/presseinformationen/tierarzneimittel-ein-neues-problem-fuer-das, called on 30.03.2016 []
  10. http://www.handelsblatt.com/unternehmen/handel-konsumgueter/guellehandel-ein-schmutziges-geschaeft-/10353500.html, 8/27/2014, accessed on 30.03.2016 []
  11. https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/presse/presseinformationen/tierarzneimittel-ein-neues-problem-fuer-das, called on 30.03.2016 []
  12. https://www.destatis.de/DE/ZahlenFakten/Wirtschaftsbereiche/LandForstwirtschaftFischerei/TiereundtierischeErzeugung/AktuellSchlachtungen.html, called on 30.03.2016 []
  13. http://www.bvdf.de/in_zahlen/tab_05, called on 30.03.2016 []