• Freshwater is a critical natural resource mobilized by  most human activities. (1)
  • Freshwater is scarce, as it only accounts for 2.5% of all water resources; 70% of that is locked up in glaciers and permanent polar ice caps. (1)
  • More than 2.3 billion people, in 21 countries, live in water stressed basins. (1)
  • Excessive withdrawals and poor water management have resulted in lowered groundwater tables, damaged soils and reduced water quality, worldwide. (1)
  • The agricultural sector is largest user of freshwater resources. Today, people consume 30-300 liters per person per day for domestic purposes while 3000 liters per day are required for their daily food. (1)

Water Use
  • Livestock's use of water and contribution to water depletion trends are high and growing. An increasing amount of water is needed to meet growing water requirements in the livestock production process, from feed production to product supply. (1)
  •  Agricultural runoff is a major contributor to freshwater resource pollution. Many of the herbicides and pesticides used in industrial production of feedstock have been linked to soft tissue sarcoma (STS), malignant lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), leukemia, ovarian cancer, and, less consistently, with cancers of the lung and breast. (2)
  • Livestock also excrete many bacterial, viral, and parasitic organisms that contaminate freshwater and impact human health. (1)
  • Antibiotics used to prevent infection and promote growth in livestock, contribute to antibiotic resistance. Approximately 1 in 5 resistant infections is caused by food or animals. (3)

antibiotic resistance
  • Nitrogen in agricultural runoff also results in algal blooms which deplete oxygen resulting in "dead zones" with reduced or absent fish catch. (4)
  • Ocean acidification from rising atmospheric carbon and warming from global temperature rise  are heavily degrading coral reefs which are vital ecosystems for tropical coastal fisheries. This is resulting in a 6-30% decline in fish catch as species move to higher latitudes as well as an up to 20% reduction in fish size and, therefore, total fish biomass. (5)
  • Combining data on dietary nutrition and fish catch, it's predicted that more than 10% of the global population could face micronutrient and fatty-acid deficiencies driven by fish declines over the coming decades, especially in the developing nations at the Equator. (5)


troubled waters

 

Sources cited   
  1. Livestock's Long Shadow
  2. Dich, J., Zahm, S.H., Hanberg, A. et al. Cancer Causes Control (1997) 8: 420. doi:10.1023/A:1018413522959
  3. Beman MJ, Arrigo KR, Matson PA. Agricultural runoff fuels large phytoplankton blooms in vulnerable areas of the ocean. Nature. Mar 10, 2005; 434(7030):211-213.
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/challenges/from-farm-to-table.html
  5. Fall in fish catch threatens human health. 16 Jun 2016; 534:317-320.