Tyson Foods is an American based food processing corporation. It was founded in 1935 by John W. Tyson and is based out of Springdale Arkansas. Tyson is also the second-largest food processing company in the world and exports the largest amount of beef out of the United States. Per day they kill six million chickens, forty-eight thousand pigs, and thirty thousand cattle. Almost every supermarket in American carries Tyson products. But where does all the waste go from their facilities and farms?
In 2014 EnviromentAmerica.org released a detailed report illustrating that Tyson dumped 104 million pounds of pollutants into US waterways between 2010 and 2014. The 104 million does not include Tyson owned factories and farms that raise livestock. They rank second out of fifteen corporate polluters. AK Steel Holding Group holds first place with an astounding 107 million pounds. Even the US Department of Defense is listed, dumping about 63 million pounds. ExxonMobil is in the last place with fifteen million pounds. These numbers are only over the span of four years. It is terrifying to imagine how much waste has been spilled into our waterways over the past two decades.
To worsen matters these pollutants contain high levels of nitrate compounds. These compounds are known to cause algae blooms which lead to dead zones. A dead zone is an area of water where algae blooms have sucked the majority of oxygen from the water. This makes it extremely difficult for marine life to remain alive. One of the largest dead zones in the world is in the Gulf of Mexico and is currently about the size of New Jersey. Wastewater flowing down the Mississippi River has only strengthened the dead zone. World wide there is roughly 95,000 square miles of dead zones. The number has nearly tripled since 1995.
The wastewater can also cause complications for newborns. Infant methemoglobinemia or blue baby syndrome is caused by high nitrate levels in the water. The nitrates cause low hemoglobin levels in the blood. This results in a blue coloration on the baby’s skin. Some of the symptoms include seizures, lethargy, loss of consciousness, and in some cases death.
Worldwide, only 1% of all freshwater is easily accessible. Contaminating what little water we realistically have available will not support longevity for humanity. Just within the United States almost half of all streams and rivers are polluted. Approximately one-third of lakes are unfit for swimming due to contamination. The destructive forces that operate within our waterways must be hindered. Tyson is only one example out of many. Corporate affection for profit overpowers the capacity to entertain a sustainable business environment.