Posts Tagged ‘factory farming’

How can we produce more meat? That’s the wrong question

Monday, September 1st, 2014

How will we produce more meat to feed the planet’s growing population?

A new report suggests that’s a silly question. The report from academics at Cambridge and Aberdeen universities, Importance of food-demand management for climate mitigation, addresses an issue all too often ignored in this debate: unsustainable demand for meat and dairy products.

Much of the talk around meat is how we produce more to keep up with demand, which is growing worldwide. But we’re building our house on sand. Ramping up meat production to satisfy demand is unsustainable. If we are to build our future food model on solid foundations then the question needs to be: how can we feed a growing world population? In answering that question, we can achieve global food security and feed everyone without wrecking the planet in the process.

The answer is to consume less meat and to waste less. As the report says: “There are… options for reduction on the demand side that are rarely considered. As I explain at length in my book, Farmageddon, getting farm animals back on the land will actually reduce food waste before the food even gets to our plates. If you put ruminants like beef cattle and dairy cows on grass they will turn something we can’t eat into something we can. If you cram them into sheds and feedlots and feed them grain that we could be eating then you are wasting a vast amount of food. As the report confirms, animals squander the majority of grain’s calorific value when converting it into meat and dairy. Figures vary, but a 70% loss is not over-egging it. That is not to mention the criminal amount of meat and dairy produce we waste as consumers.

Those pushing for more production often do so with technological “solutions”, which is misleading, as it makes them look like they are forward-thinking. In fact their way of thinking is stuck in the past, it is an outdated model and in danger of pushing our planet past tipping point.

When presented by huge, existential issues like this, one is tempted to shrug one’s shoulders and think “there’s nothing I can do about it, so what’s the point in trying?” The beauty of a focus on demand and food waste is that individuals can make a difference, simply by cutting down on their own food waste, not overconsuming meat and choosing meat and dairy products from animals raised on the land.

This new report is a welcome addition to the growing body of evidence1 that supports a truly sustainable solution to our future food dilemma.

1Articles by Eisler, Mark C., et al, Smith, Pete, et al. , Havlík, Petr, et al. Hedenus, Fredrik, Stefan Wirsenius, and Daniel JA Johansson, Ripple, William J., et al, Bellarby, Jessica, et al and Garnett, Tara all support this idea.

This blog first appeared on the Huffington Post on 1st September 2014.

 

Argentina’s mosquito madness

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Philip Argentina (Mosquitoes)“…the natural habitat and the animals that control the mosquito larvae are destroyed.” 

As I travelled through Argentina for my research for Farmageddon, I got a taste of what it’s like to be eaten alive by mosquitoes!

In places, the mosquitoes seemed to be out of control. I learned how they appear to be spreading with the ever-expanding green deserts of GM soya. Vast monocultures doused with agrochemicals to keep pests at bay seem to also be disarming nature’s own defences leading to an upset in the ecological balance.

In this short film, I talk to people on the ground in Argentina to find out what’s going on with soya, much of it destined for export to feed industrially reared animals in Europe.

To get your copy of ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat’, click here.

Latest speaking dates on the Farmageddon tour

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Philip at Kalk Bay BooksWith more than 25 speaking dates behind us, the Farmageddon tour returns to the United States. I’m excited to be travelling to Georgia where I’ll be speaking at the Decatur Book Festival, the biggest independent literary festival in the US.

After several events in and around Atlanta, I’ll be speaking in New York before moving on to a new country for the Farmageddon tour; India.

Here’s the latest speaking dates:

It’s been a real pleasure to meet so many wonderfully enthusiastic people keen to bring about a humane food revolution.

I hope to see you along the next leg of the trail.

With all best wishes

Philip

For your copy of ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat’, click here.

What’s on the Horizon?

Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Soya field at sunset

Soya monoculture in Argentina

I was thrilled to see the prestigious BBC programme Horizon addressing the issue of meat consumption and feeding the planet in a series of two programmes, ‘Should I Eat Meat? – The Big Health Dilemma’ on 18th August and ‘Should I Eat Meat? – How to Feed the Planet’ on 20th August.

I was interviewed in the second programme, where I emphasised that it’s madness to rear animals in factory farms where they are fed cereals and soya that could instead be feeding people directly.

I was concerned that some of the environmental issues were glossed over too rapidly. The programme presented a rather myopic view on greenhouse gases (GHG), suggesting that intensive animal farming is the most environmentally sound way forward. But whilst the GHG issue is vital, it cannot be seen in isolation.

We needed more coverage on the benefits of pasture-based free range and organic farming, where biodiversity is maintained, the soil is nourished with animal manure, the animals obtain most of their nourishment from their surrounding environment and they have the potential for a great quality of life.

With a hungry planet to feed, it is monstrous that we are currently feeding 4 billion people’s worth of cereals and soya to animals, whilst people go to bed hungry. The space to grow all this grain would cover the entire land surface of the European Union, although much of it is being grown in South America at the expense of the rainforest and savannah.

The visit to a broiler chicken farm was misleading as the chickens shown were only about three weeks old and, although they were obviously already walking in an ungainly way, with frequent rest stops, this was a week or so before the really dire lameness problems can set in over the last week or two of their short lives. That was not shown.

Thankfully the programme did finally conclude that the only long-term solution is for a large reduction in meat consumption. Eating less meat will ease pressure on the earth, is likely to bring health benefits to people and will enable widespread adoption of the very best pasture-based farming systems, which will produce enough meat to meet human demand, whilst enhancing animal wellbeing.

Farmageddon on Film: Argentina’s growing deserts of green

Thursday, August 14th, 2014
Argentina’s soya desert

Argentina’s soya desert

“Some of the poorest and most disempowered people in the world are being cast aside.”

One of the most touching experiences of the Farmageddon journey was hearing the plight of indigenous people thrown off their ancestral land after it was sold off for industrial farming.

They lived deep in the forests of northeastern Argentina, an area so remote and impenetrable that early Spanish settlers called it the Impenetrable Forest. Some still survive in the shrinking wilderness. Many, like those I met on the outskirts of Rosario, have been displaced into the suburbs.

My time with the once proud people of the Toba Qom tribe was deeply troubling. They were living in extremely basic housing in an area rife with crime. We met in the community centre where ten men sat round the table in a poorly-lit room. We drank maté together, a bitter herbal tea made from the yerba plant served in a communal cup with curved nickel straw.

Talking with people of the Qom

Talking with people of the Qom

It was a difficult few hours, complicated by the fact that the Qom have their own language. Through a translator, I learned how their people have been pushed into smaller and smaller territories.

The secretary of the group told me how a multinational company had bought the land they were living on; “The provincial government sold our land, with us included in the price, because we happened to be there. We had no value of course… they fenced off the land and installed armed guards.”

The land was ploughed up to grow GM soya for export as soya meal to feed industrially reared animals in Europe and China.

See my video blog from that experience here in the latest in the Farmageddon on Film series.

For your copy of ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat’, click here.

Farmageddon on film

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About Philip Lymbery

Philip Lymbery is Chief Executive Officer of Compassion in World Farming and co-author of Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. He is an internationally respected authority on the impact of industrial agriculture on people, animals and the planet.