A River of Waste

A River of Waste

2009, Environment  -   49 Comments
Ratings: 8.88/10 from 116 users.

This documentary looks at the potential hazards caused by factory farms in the United States, particularly by waste disposal.

Beginning with a history of the American food system, River of Waste shows its evolution to large-scale corporate farms where pollution and use of growth hormones threaten both individual health and the future of our planet.

A River of Waste exposes a huge health and environmental scandal in our modern industrial system of meat and poultry production.

Some scientists have gone so far as to call the condemned current factory farm practices as mini Chernobyls. In the U.S. and elsewhere, the meat and poultry industry is dominated by dangerous uses of arsenic, antibiotics, growth hormones and by the dumping of massive amounts of sewage in fragile waterways and environments.

The film documents the vast catastrophic impact on the environment and public health as well as focuses on the individual lives damaged and destroyed.

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49 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Terryl Sky

    How appetizing. Go vegan.

  2. Paola Cook

    One percent of the population is controlling ninety-nine percent of the rest of us.....what is our problem??????? Do the math... wake up, speak up and quit buying what they are selling. Easy math. Too bad that ninety-eight percent of the population is still asleep.

  3. Peter Strain

    This is a critical issue but this documentary is so appallingly didactic and preachy that it is incapable of effecting anyone except those already in agreement with its one armed polemic. Bad film making that ultimately dulls the public to skepticism via boredom and adds to the apathy it preaches about. Consider the idea that supermarkets are feedlots for humans and maybe we could demonstrate an argument that compels people to act. But not with lazy film making like this documentary.

  4. Kay Kiewking

    This is not a issue with meat. This is an issue on how we are producing food and other products on a whole.Medicines, gasoline, energy, food, and that poisoned container you are drinking your pure water from. Open up your eyes and mind, and see how everything we are doing is causing devastation. GMO crops don't feed us as a whole. They feed the organism that ends up on your poisoned packaging at Mac Donald's. I have no problem with one farmer only being able to feed 20-30 people. Families in this country need jobs. If you show them how to raise a good rack of ribs, or a crop of tasty safe corn, we are starting a economy and ecosystem to take care of ourselves. Relying off of companies selling GMO's, chemicals and mass produced products, is not how people take care of our own. If we continue to feed into the system, we will eat only the evil they sow.

  5. brianbigelow

    Personally if we push Congress to eliminate the subsidies and tax breaks the CAFO gets it will do some good. We also need to boycott the largest producers wherever possible since the pocket book is what actually speaks.


    My sister and her daughter are vegetarian now. I'm down to meat every 15 - 20 days and hope to stop... hell, after watching that, screw it. I'm stopped.

    I did vegetarianism for 5 years after I read the book Factory Farms, but then I went overseas and couldn't find enough alternative protein. When I came back, I kept eating meat.

    I have suffered for it: IBD, allergies, arthritis, and tendon issues. But you know what? My last count, there are 17 categories of chemical, energy or situational regimes impacting Americans. Our entire country is now so toxic (physically or psychically) that most people (especially in urban areas) can't really think straight anymore.

    Here it is:
    1) Food Additives - Deliberate - Multiple types with inedible sugars leading
    2) Food Additives - Production - Roxarsone, et al.
    3) EMF Pollution - Cancer clusters around cell towers, ear canal cancer, fatigue, brain fog, etc. (long list here)
    4) GeoEngineering/Chemtrails - Aluminum, Barium, Strontium and a whole bunch of other things they say will cool the planet but actually heat it. The metal nanoparticles they are using are highly toxic and rain down on us afterwards. This has been going on for 14 years.
    5) Antibiotics - Why can't they ozone shock the hospitals to clean the air ducts?
    6) Flouride - Toxic and synergistic w/Lead and Mercury; Hispanics and African Americans more vulnerable than Caucasians.
    7) Air Pollution - All kinds
    8) Vaccinations - Big mess here with lots of casualties
    9) Water Infrastructure Creates Dead Water - Chlorinated tap water and bottled water produce water that is devoid of microbes. This dead water kills the good bacteria in our guts and gives us digestive problems over time.
    10) Water Pollutants - Non-removable - They can't get it all out.
    11) Industrial Impact to Residential Areas - More cancer clusters and these CAFOs are a perfect example.
    12) Financial Stress - The Minimum Wage documentary says that 150 million Americans are living check to check with no financial security. That is VERY stressful.
    13) Parasites/Candida Overgrowth - Addiction to sugars and yo-yo dieting leading to obesity can be traced back to Candida. EVERYONE with weight issues probably needs probiotics.
    14) Sick Relatives
    15) Aging Relatives
    16) Natural Disasters
    17) Workplace Abuse and Discrimination

    I could probably go on. I wonder how much crap our government thinks we will absorb before the blowback process begins? It is probably monitoring our twitter traffic right now to get an idea whether they can get away with anymore chemtrails. Then again, those chemtrails might not be created by our government. Who knows?

  7. Jeanette V Peterson

    Tucker Jones, Its really simple people need to stop eating meat. We don't need it for human health, the facts are clear now and both human health and the environment cannot handle it any longer. Plain and simple really. Human tastebuds are to blame thats it. We don't need a better strategy to keep chickens, pigs and cows. We just need to stop it full stop.....

  8. Tucker Jones

    I grew up, live, and now operate a 5th generation, 6000 acre row crop farm, 20,000 head SWINE operation, and a 650,000 head POULTRY operation. Therefore, it is safe to say I have vast knowledge and first-hand experience and insight on the "CAFO" industry. With that being said much of the information being presented in this documentary is completely one sided and very much skewed to make certain situations appear worst than what they are. Documentaries like this turn a snowball into a avalanche with their misrepresentation and explanations of information, statistics, and so called experts. Without these large scale farms America could very well be in the same crisis as areas such as Africa and other poverty stricken nations. In the 1960's one US farmer was able to feed just 26.8 individuals, however thanks to new technologies, GMO seeds, more efficient techniques, and... oh yeah the introduction of CAFO's this number has increased by almost 600% to 155 individuals. How many of you lawyers, bankers, plumbers, carpenters, salesman, managers, CPAs, etc. could even feed the 50 year old statistic of 26.8 individuals? American farmers and farming in general have and always will be a vital staple in the US success and longevity of this nation. How many of you can do and provide for this nation and the world on such a large scale like farmers do?

    1. christianmonk

      arsenic in any food is unsafe and so are excessive amounts of antibiotics is not what animal husbandry should be about, and what about the waste by-product?

      I will never eat meat and will never need it. Meat production is killing this planet all because whites love killing and killing, they are a blood thirsty people. Meat consumption shortens the human lifespan and I would rather eat local from a local farm and grow my own crops instead of eating anything in this documentary.

    2. Bob Tallas

      Your one sided. The ONLY option in todays society is to stop all meat eating.
      End off.
      No argument.

  9. Richard Neva

    It is not my damn fault. I am a consumer at the mercy of the food I can buy. I cannot forage so I must take what I can buy or die. It is as simple as that. This message is for the producer and then get some laws to change this situation but no, that will never happen! The people who should see this are not us but those in control of this horrendous situation!

    1. CultureSeparates

      That is a total cop out. Your only power in this capitalist society is your purchasing power. Simply stop buying meat. You're not ignorant of the problem so you have no excuse, now do something about it.

  10. Suzan Klein

    Soilent Green... says it the best 1972 movie..

  11. Ryan Hahn

    The answer is simple . Eat Plant Based Foods. That solves most of our problems. Don't cry about how things are. do something about it.

    Start Now!

  12. Christina Girdhari

    Meat Lovers? Think about the growth hormones, odors and dust, animal welfare, bacteria and disease, arsenic, etc. etc. Think about how we can get cancer!!

  13. Mercenarry ForHire

    Funny how Humans made civilizations in order, to be "Safer and work together."

    Now that time passes the civilizations began to decay in there own unique way. Wars over resources , Attempts to De-stabilize each-other And Degradation of information leading people to connect dots in a whole world where things are interconnected by design.

    Some say that most of our problems are caused by N.W.O, Gods or Demons.

    But take this into account.

    What if we just Traded One Jungle for Another?

    And all we have achieved in human history is nothing more than simply Re-learn our new environment and start from scratch in our version of what Nature should be according to only US. There fore Only giving the illusion of Progress.

    Maybe none of this information matters, maybe it does. I dont know. :)

    1. Luis X

      Tell you what, go live in the wilderness. Test your idea.

    2. christianmonk

      civilization is the act of being civil. there is nothing civil about western civilization that engaged in two world wars using resources that could have saved thousands of lives. it is called capitalism and sociopathology. which comes first.

  14. Sherman Monro

    Some people believe in having no government at all and let the capitalism thrive. I don’t agree. On the contrary, we need a government but not a dysfunctional and corrupt one. We as people, cannot tackle these corporations by ourselves and we need to somehow convince those manure heads in the congress to think about their children and grand children --- if not themselves. Although we are encountering the consequences of these malicious and criminal practices by the food industries every day, the complete destruction is yet to come. If one thing there is to wipe out the man from this planet, is GREED. I see some folks talk about bunkers that these so called ‘Manure heads’ have built for themselves to survive when catastrophes make life impossible on the ground; they won’t survive because they have altered the ecosystem to annihilation point and planetary recovery won’t happen during their lifetime --- if there is any recovery at all!

    It is an insult to many human beings to call these greedy criminals ‘Human beings’. I am not sure what to call them because even the animals would be outraged if I call these criminals ‘Animals’. They have built a corrupt and strong system, particularly in US that dealing with them requires going through a lot of legal mumbo jumbo. In fact, these criminals themselves have created this type of justice system to protect them. They have, and are, and will doing so by either bribery or extortion. Then why we blame Russia or China for corruption and Mafia activities?

    Those who follow this party or that party, this ism or that ism should know that all are the same, ‘generating wealth for few, and leaving the rest behind in misery.’ They convince their fans by fancy words and false promises and make them to rally behind them with appealing slogans and banners! So, wake up. Select you representatives and leaders carefully – though it’s hard since the majority of them are amongst Manure heads! In any case, remember, you have to participate in democracy rather than being just a spectator.

  15. daryan


    As someone who is into the whole "energy" issue, it does occur to me that the usually savy corp's might be missing a trick here. Manure and other farm waste can be broken down by a process called "Anaerobic Digestion" to produce biogas. Such a huge volume of waste could easily be reused for such purposes, yielding a modest but tidy little revenue stream, nevermind the reduction in pollution you'd be achieving.

    Of course, I've often found the problem with right wing conservatives is getting them to get over this whole "real men don't use solar panels" mentality.

  16. daryan

    You know its things like this that make me glad we have an EU! Indeed our food regulations this side of the pond are much tighter. They caught a farmer in my county a few years ago using growth hormones and he got sent to prison, something that's common practice in the US. I was in America a few years back for a couple of months and given what I saw going past any "farms" (if that's the correct term for them!) I seriously thought about going vegan for the duration of my stay!

    Of course the meat packing lobby will say that no, if we impose EU style regulation then the costs of meat in the US will soar. Funnily enough I remembering noting that the price of meat in American supermarkets wasn't that much cheaper than it is in Europe...and the bulk of that price difference is probably down to VAT!

    So really the only people who gain from America's lax farming practices are a couple of greedy executives in a small number of companies.

  17. noconman

    I'm feelin sick now, tried to eat some money, but it was contaminated too.

  18. Christian Klinckwort Guerrero

    or do you?

  19. Christian Klinckwort Guerrero

    No wonder so much U.S. A. citicens are moving out, should I say "invading" into Mexico, fleeing from what is obvious. U. S. A. is going to (gonna) (for Texan Bush) harvest your crops, what you have seeded. G.W. Bush You do not have the guts to face me face to face, such a coward you are. With best regards, Christian Klinkwort Guerrero

  20. CapnCanard

    The real problem is money.

  21. Carniverous

    Ahhh !!! Why didn't somebody tell me what this film was about! I'm eating KFC right now! Oh god... I think I'm about to barf!!

  22. MFD

    sad it doesn't touch on the fact that for it to be considered "free-range" or "organic", all that needs to be done is for the last week or 2 before slaughter the animals are out of their pens or fed no anti biotics/hormones. Those labels are not anymore healthy for you, at all.

  23. Vitor Fernandes

    The way to be part of the solution and not of the problem, is simple...


    You dont buy, they dont sell. Problem stopped...


  24. panthera f

    Thats what you all get when you don't want to PAY MORE for better healthy food.
    Short term thinking.

  25. panthera f

    Don't buy American ****, and don't eat at Mac.Death etc.
    And keep your grow hormone meat at your side of the pond.
    Greetings from Europe. :-)

  26. norlavine

    Chicken is everywhere now. It used to be a luxury only afforded on special occasions. Now it comes in all shapes and sizes in the supermarkets. Chicken burgers, chicken wrapped in exotic batters, chicken fingers. Crumbed chicken, drumsticks, wings. Chicken roll, chicken with ham roll, fresh chickens, frozen chickens. 'Organic, free range', stuffed or plain.
    I used to love my chicken but the affair has suddenly ended. I want to heave up every bit of chicken I have ever eaten after watching this doc.

  27. Klaus-bud Oracle-kaczor

    I have heard news of a great solution to the excess ammonia problems which is being discussed in the highest levels of the Federal Government. These raw factory farm waste materials could be collected, then converted into powerful nitrate and nitrite products. There are rumors about a Yemeni based company (Bin Laden's Ecowaste Products. Inc) signing up biomass factory farm producers to deliver all their waste streams for a substantial profit, not the losses they incur now.

    When questioned as to the market for their newly developed highly explosive products, the CEO of Bin Laden's Ecowaste Products. Inc, Barrack Osama, confidently stated that, "the company is developing an ethnic civilian market in most major urban centers. A fleet of used and innocuous looking vans and trucks is now being assembled to haul each load to its destination. Highly dedicated drivers are lining up to lend a hand to the arduous task of driving their cargo into densely populated areas."

    Barrack Osama was vague when questioned as to the final destination of his nitrate products and claimed company patents for his secrecy. He did say that the results would help the entire pollution problem, like a final solution by decreasing the primary demand for the factory farm products, if the company achieved its goals.

    Washington is considering taxing the waste and guaranteeing a 2.3 billion dollar loan to build the production facilities.

    1. Luke Waddington

      Klaus that is a work of art.. well done , tax the waste then build the production facilities.. perfect .(who said "final"?) solution, cheers.


      i think u r on to something Klaus...

  28. Petar Vitanovich

    What is so sad, is these people really believe more regulations are going to help. They don't understand that the regulations are already there, and look what is still happening!?!? This is because of special interest groups and slap-on-the-wrist fines, which actually benefits the regulators. What people have such a hard time understanding is the only solution is by doing the exact opposite, you deregulate the whole thing. Why? You need to have the farms go through a "quick reset" as I call out. What happens is, the small guys who are producing grass fed, organic meats, will be able to undercut the market of corporations such as Cargill and Tyson, since they have no dumb regulations to waste money paying, meaning they can focus all their limited funds to creating a even more far superior product. In this day in age, with things like the internet, we receive information faster than at any other point in time. So when you hear about a specific product testing positive for example E. Coli, then you know when going grocery shopping not to buy that particular product, which in turn hurts the corporations that aren't paying enough attention to their products. Today instead we have regulations, which means a company like Cargill who tests positive for E. Coli, will probably suffer a minor fine to pay, then continue business as usual. Since not buying their product won't hurt them since they have a monopoly on the market. That is because of the regulations, which make it hard for your mom and pop farmer from ever breaching Cargill and Tyson's market, since they are currently "too big to fail". Just think of the market as the App Market on your phone. Before purchasing an app, you are provided with a rating and reviews, and more than likely, you won't purchase the product if most of the reviews are negative or it has a bad rating. The economy, in all aspects, can work exactly like this, but we complicate it through regulations. In turn, they create special interest groups, that have the money and lobby power to be able to surpass the regulations. The solution is, back to the app market example, is having people decide what company deserves to make money and grow, and what company needs to lose money and die. It might seem like you don't have this choice today, and that is again, because of regulations, without them, every dollar you spent on a particular product would be equal to one vote in support of the company to keep producing their product. I really suggest you guys Google, "Austrian School Free Market Economics", and also Dr. Ron Paul. He is one of the experts on the Austrian way of thinking, and is the only man who is supported by the Norther California dairy farmers who are currently being sued by the Feds for producing organic non-pasteurized dairy products, which under current law is illegal. RON PAUL 2012

  29. KsDevil

    I guess if you want to fight corporate propaganda, you have to use propaganda. Pepper with facts, toss in some hope, and stir with tugged heart strings. But it's ends up just as slick as anything the corporate public relations firms can spew out...and just as effective. Once again, there is no defined path away from this. It's still just a hand wringing documentary.

    1. PUNKKY

      An informative one though.Voters need to be informed of this criminal behavior in corporate America.When is bringing up healthy families a second tier prospect to big money? The big picture seems to be that you will kill yourselves before you respect same and all for $$$$....Good Luck!

    2. Keith Rodgers

      This is the equivalence of those in Government building massive Bunkers to protect their lame butt's while exposing the remainder of the 220,000,000 American's to the fall-out of their failed foreign policies throughout the world. Leaving WE American's to die while they are inside cozy bunkers that are filled with good food good water that will last them for years.
      They that "think" Nuclear War is survivable for "them" and Screw the rest of the people. You can see why these big-wigs don't eat out at fast food joints and are willing to pay for a meal because they are receiving the bribes to do so. Spoon feed the "Crap" to their Children and see how fast laws will change.
      Like is is deadly to swallow tooth paste because of the fluoride in it, Yet then they add fluoride to the water supply? Hitler used this same method to dumb down the people as has the push for most Military and US Population to be on anti-depressant's.
      You don't build for a better future, you contain the Present for without a current people to thrive there is no use in caring about Generation 2040. The people today wont survive to make that future.

    3. Sherman Monro

      Thanks Keith Rogers, well put!

  30. Mercenarry ForHire


    If people are willing to buy ______ , theres nothing people wont do in order to sell you ______.

    Fix it or Ignore it, those are the options.

  31. Aaylsworth

    Spread the word to friends/family/coworkers and do our part by personally not supporting this type of business model.

  32. Akim

    Anyone who thinks this **** (and other major environmental destruction) will go for ever without consequences for themselves, is already braindead. We are driving 150mph(and accelerating) against the wall and no one seems to bother...

    1. Petar Vitanovich

      Very true, but regulations are NOT the answer. Who produces organic safe products??? Small mom and pop farmers, now ask them how much they like regulations?? Not at all. All that regulations due is create special interest groups, who have enough money and enough lobby power(Cargill, Tyson, etc.) to surpass those regulations. Just read about the dairy farmers of Norther California, who produce organic non-pasteurized dairy products, which under current law, are illegal, yet they are healthier and safer than any other dairy product. Liberals like Obama, and Republican Neo-Cons like Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, don't care about me and you, or the organic small farmer, they care about Tyson and Cargill paying them through lobbyists and to pay for their campaigns. I really suggest you Google "Austrian School Free Market Economics" and read also about Dr. Ron Paul, since he is the only American in government, who follows the Austrian way of thinking.

    2. Epicurus

      organic farming is not a sustainable way to feed over 300 million people. it is literally impossible.

      regulations are fine, but we need to make lobbying illegal. people shouldnt get more say because they can afford it. that is the most blatant form of political corruption i have ever seen.

    3. wald0

      I could not agree with you more. Lobbying is the basis of this issue, the larger factory farms have more say in what regulations and laws get passed and how they are inforced while the small farmer has only the small power of casting his vote ever so often. I grew up on a small family farm, I still run it in fact. But the laws and regulations in place on everything from distribution to purchasing are set in favor of the large factory farms, while they effectively put small farmers out of business.
      Not two miles from my 60 acre farm a major factory grow operation exists, growing peanuts for peanut oil. The company that operates it also farms chickens else where and, they bring the waste and dump it on the fields here by my farm. If they have more than the peanut crop needs, which is usual, they simply dump it in a big pile not fifty yards from the Buttahatchee river. The Buttahatchee is a tributary of the Tombigbee river and water way and, has become so choked with algae and loose soil from the farming operations positioned up and down its banks that it is rarely over knee deep anymore and supports maybe a tenth of the biology it did when I was a kid. We are talking about a river that used to bring people from all over the world to fish for pike, trout, bass, and other game fish. A river that averaged ten to twelve feet at the shallow end and was the main recreational attraction for this area. This isn't the only damage caused by factory farming in this area but, it is the most obvious. The water table has also been corrupted past the point of being safe to drink. I had to have city water installed five years ago. We had gotten our water from a natural spring since i was borned, but no more. Every time I go to the river I just want to cry. That old man has been here far longer than any of us, and has provided me with endless needs and recreation through out my life. Its like watching an old friend die slowly, choked out for profit.

    4. MFD

      yes it can. we don't have a problem with enough food for everyone as it is, we have a problem of only the powerful countries get that food. did you know that here in the USA, whatever grains are left over after harvest and sale is then destroyed rather than sold at cost to 3rd world and poor starving nations? rather than even just give it to them for free, it's destroyed. what a shame.

    5. lex lexich

      says who???

    6. Epicurus

      says anyone who actually understands what it takes to farm.

    7. Guy C Miller Sr.

      Petar, Why is it always this Liberal/Conservative Bullshit!! It's nothing but flat *** politics and money. But you can't stop pointing at one side that you don't think you're in. You're in it period.. It doesn't matter if it's liberal or conservative, republican or democrat. IT'S POLITICS AND IT'S MONEY. And yes, none of them give a obese rodents rectum about you or your families. As long as get get to keep swollowing as much as it they can. Cause that fills their pockets. If they and their own families were held responsible for the cr** they do then things would change. And Yes, I said their families.