Industrial agriculture thrives on its ability to skulk away from -- or, to use economist's argot, "externalize" -- the costs of its considerable ecological messes. Often, it does so with the tacit approval of the federal government, in direct violation of federal law. In Iowa, for example, the state's 2,100 CAFOs (confined-animal feedlot operations) regularly violate the Clean Water Act by failing to adequately dispose of the 50 million tons of waste they produce each year, the Washington-based Environmental Integrity Project showed in a 2004 report. Three years later, the EPA -- the federal agency charged with enforcing the Clean …
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