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When Chinese conglomerate WH Group bought Smithfield Foods in fall 2013, the purchase brought public attention to the growing demand for pork on a global scale.
With hundreds or often thousands of farm animals crammed together, factory farms can create a range of pollution problems.
This can affect both natural environments and the animals and plants that inhabit them.
The purchase also raised questions closer to the Smithfield, Va., home of the well-known pork company.
More traditional farming methods can be relatively efficient, converting grass and other waste products into useful food.
But the "fast-growth, high-yield" factory-farming model is far less efficient, using substantial amounts of grain and protein-rich soya.
This can be a good thing - animal waste can be a useful form of manure, replenishing the soil with certain nutrients.
But in factory farms, the concentration of animals indoors generally means that the waste is concentrated in relatively small areas.
These crops often receive large quantities of pesticides and nitrogen-and-phosphorus-rich fertiliser to boost plant growth.
Farm animals produce large amounts of nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich waste on a daily basis.
This waste should be properly managed and disposed of, but this isn't always the case, and it can find its way into the natural environment.Nitrogen and phosphorus can create significant problems: for example, they can leak into water courses.