The effects of fracking on food supply and the environment are slowly emerging. The fracking process runs contrary to safe sustainable food production. In the agriculturally and energy rich region called the Marcellus Shale, a tug of war between food producers and energy companies has begun.
Chemicals used in the fracking process contaminate surrounding land, water and air. Ranchers in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Louisiana and New Mexico report health problems, and incidents of dead and tainted livestock, due to elevated levels of contaminants from nearby wells.
While no long-term research of the effects of fracking on humans, livestock or plants exists, a peer-reviewed report by Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald links fracking to illness in animals. They believe chemicals leaking from fracking sites could start appearing in the food supply due to lack of regulation and testing.
There is an absence of both adequate disclosures, by energy companies, and timely government regulations to protect the environment and landowners. Secrecy shrouding the hydro-fracking process and Bush-era loopholes obscure consumer knowledge of food safety.
A lack of whistle-blowers has been attributed to fear of retaliation, non-disclosure agreements or involvement in active litigation. While some fear that the early warnings will be ignored, two major agricultural insurance companies now refuse to cover damages from fracking.
Elizabeth Royte, “Fracking Our Food Supply,” The Nation, December 17, 2012. http://www.thenation.com/article/171504/fracking-our-food-supply
Michelle Bamberger and Robert E. Oswald, “Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health,” New Solutions, Vol. 22(1) 51-77 (January 2012). http://www.psehealthyenergy.org/data/Bamberger_Oswald_NS22_in_press.pdf
Student Researcher: Rayne Madison and Nayeli Castaneda, College of Marin
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman and Andy Lee Roth, College of Marin