Experts Find Ocean Dead Zones Have Expanded 1000% Worldwide Since 1950

Sydney Jones

Press Secretary

[email protected]

Carole Mitchell

Sr. Director Communications

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According to a ground-breaking study published in the journal Science today, reducing run-off pollution from industrial agriculture is urgently necessary to stop the rapid growth in oceanic Dead Zones that have expanded 10-fold around the world since 1950. The study points to climate change and expanding meat production as primary drivers of these low-oxygen areas, and echoes findings from Mighty Earth’s recent investigation into the specific companies most responsible for the largest dead zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

“These findings are no surprise, and further confirm that the unchecked pollution from industrial agriculture has reached crisis levels and requires immediate action,” noted Campaign Director for Mighty Earth Lucia von Reusner. “Companies like Tyson Foods are driving the demand for vast quantities of unsustainably-produced corn and soy that are leaking the bulk of the nutrient pollution into our waterways, in addition to the manure that is often dumped on fields where it then washes off into surrounding waterways. These dead zones will continue to expand unless the major meat companies that dominate our global agricultural system start taking responsibility for cleaning up their supply chains to keep pollution out of our waters.”

The study, Declining oxygen in the global ocean and coastal waters, was conducted by the Global Ocean Oxygen Network, which represents 21 institutions in 11 countries. It is the first study to evaluate the causes, consequences, and solutions to ocean dead zones worldwide, and highlights the urgent threat to global fisheries as these low oxygen areas expand and cause marine life to suffocate or flee for deeper waters.

Based on the findings of its investigation earlier this year, Mighty Earth has launched a campaign calling on major meat companies like Tyson Foods to take responsibility for reducing pollution from their supply chains. Mighty Earth found that industrial meat production’s environmental impact can be greatly improved by requiring feed suppliers to reduce excess fertilizer use, adopt practices that prevent soil erosion such as cover-cropping, and protecting native landscapes from being plowed over for expanded production.

The #CleanItUpTyson campaign has spread to major cities across the Midwest and Gulf of Mexico, with over 240 local business, farmer, community, and environmental groups signing an open letter to Tyson’s CEO urging the company to adopt practices for reducing water pollution. While some companies like Smithfield have begun improving feed sourcing practices, Tyson has so far ignored these impacts despite the growing pressure from customers and shareholders.


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