Protect Our Waters: Tell Tyson to Clean Up Pollution From Meat

Tyson CEO Tom Hayes

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Scientists recently announced that so much pollution has run into the Gulf of Mexico this year that it has created one of the largest Dead Zones on record- an area so polluted that marine life must flee or die.

One of the biggest reasons for the Dead Zone are giant meat companies like Tyson which are driving water pollution throughout the country. Excess manure and fertilizer pollution from the vast quantities of feed grown for their livestock is polluting local waterways and pouring into the Mississippi River, where it washes downstream into the Gulf of Mexico.

In fact, about 170% more tons of pollution is dumped into the Gulf each year from industrial meat and feed than was spilled by BP in 2010. Local communities are stuck with the bill, spending millions to clean up the water so that it is safe enough to drink.

As America’s largest meat company, Tyson has the power to make meat less polluting. The time is right: Tyson's new CEO Tom Hayes has said he wants to “place sustainability at the center of the company’s future plans.” As the owner of Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, Sara Lee, Ball Park, and other brands, we need to make sure this marketing is backed with real action.

Tyson and other companies could dramatically reduce water pollution by taking simple steps to prevent manure and fertilizer from washing off their fields. Making sure all meat is raised using pollution-free feed is a clear way for Tyson to live up to its word and put the company on a more sustainable path. With water pollution worsening and demand for meat rising, the stakes could not be greater.

Petition by
Mighty Earth
Washington, DC, Texas

To: Tyson CEO Tom Hayes
From: [Your Name]

Dear Mr. Hayes, I am writing out of concern about the pollution caused by industrial meat production that is contaminating water across the country. Producing meat takes up about a third of the land in the continental U.S. and is having a major impact on the environment and public health. Excess manure and fertilizer pollution from the vast quantities of feed grown to raise meat is polluting local waterways across the Heartland, washing downstream along the Mississippi River until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. This pollution is contaminating drinking water, and causing one of the largest Dead Zones on record in the Gulf. In fact, about 170% more tons of pollution is dumped into the Gulf each year from industrial meat and feed than was spilled by BP in 2010. Local communities are stuck with the bill, spending millions to clean up the water so that it is safe enough to drink. Rising demand for feed crops is also driving the destruction of natural grasslands, including the threatened American Prairie, putting new regions at risk of water contamination from fertilizer pollution. As America’s largest meat company, Tyson Foods has the power to make meat less polluting. The vast quantities of feed used to raise animals make up the bulk of meat’s environmental impact. You have publicly committed to placing sustainability at the center of Tyson’s future plans, and raising animals on pollution-free feed that prevents fertilizer pollution washing off fields needs to be a cornerstone of that strategy. With water pollution worsening and demand for meat rising, the stakes could not be greater. Please do your part in putting American agriculture on a more sustainable, regenerative path forward. Sincerely,