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News at Brighter Green

Brighter Green and Humane Society International Publish COP 20 Policy Recommendations 12/4/14

Brighter Green and Humane Society International published a policy recommendation document on animal agriculture and climate change for the COP 20 meeting in Lima, Peru. You can access the document here.

Brighter Green Releases Summary on Forthcoming Nature's Rights Paper 10/14/14

Brighter Green released a summary of a forthcoming nature's rights paper entitled Nature's Rights: Rivers, Trees, Whales, and Apes.

Jim Harkness Positively Reviews "What's For Dinner?" 10/6/14

Jim Harkness Senior Advisor on China at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy positively reviews "What's For Dinner?" and interviews Executive Director Mia MacDonald.

Brighter Green Associate Interviewed by "Eating Animals" Director, Christopher Quinn 9/29/14

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou was interviewed by Eating Animals director Christopher Quinn. BG also provided Mr. Quinn Chinese contacts, including What's For Dinner? director Jian Yi, for the film.

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou interviewed by Our Hen House 7/23/14

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou was interviewed by Our Hen House on Brighter Green's What's For Dinner? and China screening tour in June and July 2014.

Brighter Green and Partner Global Forest Coalition Published in "Square Brackets" 7/1/14

Brighter Green and partner Global Forest Coalition published their article "Implementing Aichi Target 3 in the livestock sector" in "Square Brackets: CBD Newsletter for Civil Society".

Brighter Green Releases June 2014 Newsletter 6/27/14

Brighter Green releases its June 2014 newsletter highlighting achievements and events in the first part of 2014. You can view the newsletter here.

Brighter Green Launches "What's For Dinner?" China Screening Tour 6/15/14

Brighter Green launches the China tour of the short documentary film "What's For Dinner?". The film is screened in multiple cities through July 2014 and provinces including Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhejiang province. To learn more please click here.

Brighter Green Presents at the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption 6/11/14

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou presented her paper, "The Triangle: Factory Farming in the U.S., China and Brazil" in Shanghai, China at the Global Research Forum on Production and Consumption.

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Mia MacDonald Talks Brighter Green on Our Hen House TV

December 5, 2014 10:00am

Mia MacDonald (far right) and Josphat Ngonyo (far left) filming Our Hen House TV

Mia MacDonald was recently on the season 2 premiere of Our Hen House TV. The 23rd episode featured Mia, along with well-known animal activists Josphat Ngonyo (founder and executive director of The Africa Network for Animal Welfare) and Gene Baur (president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary).

The show is co-produced with Brooklyn Independent Media, ventures into the under-explored world of animals rights with a sense of humor, a passionate heart, and more than a few opinions on the state of animal rights. The show is an extension of the popular podcast under the same name.

The Hummingbird and the Climate Summit

September 24, 2014 10:35am
Hummingbird

The humble symbol of climate activism, a hummingbird.

This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post on September 23, 2014.

Co-authored by Wanjira Mathai, director of the wPOWER Project at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi and Chair, Green Belt Movement


Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist and 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate, was fond of recounting a children's story she'd been told on a visit to Japan. A huge fire breaks out in the forest, runs the tale. The animals are transfixed and overwhelmed by the conflagration. All of them but a hummingbird, who resolves to do something. She flies to the nearest stream, dips her beak into it, and drops a bead of water onto the flames. The elephant, the lion, the giraffe, and the other animals laugh at her, as she flies back and forth over and over again. "You're just a tiny hummingbird," they jeer. "What difference do you think you can make?" The hummingbird replies: "I'm doing the best I can."

For many who heard Wangari tell the story, the message of maximizing our abilities and passions for the greater good rather than descending into cynicism or despair was galvanizing. Wangari embraced this interpretation wholeheartedly. Yet it's clear that a more challenging, even provocative message lies within it. That message has more relevance than ever as hundreds of thousands of people, us among them, marched Sunday in the streets of New York demanding their leaders take urgent action to address climate change, and as heads of government, industry, and civil society gather at the United Nations for an unprecedented global-warming summit.

Activism in China: Q&A with Associate Wanqing Zhou

August 7, 2014 10:00am
Premiere at Vegan Hut in Beijing

Outside of the film's premiere at Vegan Hut in Beijing

This blog originally appeared on the Our Hen House website on July 23, 2014.

Today, I'm excited to tell you about a screening tour across China of the 30-minute documentary WHAT'S FOR DINNER? Providing a unique look into the rapid growth of industrialized animal agriculture in China, the film follows various people in Chinese society—from a retired pig farm worker to a vegan restaurant owner—and examines the impacts of the country's huge shift in food production and consumption on sustainability, public health, food security, climate change, and animal welfare.

WHAT'S FOR DINNER? is a production of Brighter Green, a public policy "action tank" on environment, animals, and sustainability, for which I've been fortunate enough to work this summer, in addition to my internship with Our Hen House. You may remember Brighter Green's important work from OHH's interview with Jessika Ava on Episode 216 of the podcast, or from Jessika's collaborative feature with Brighter Green Executive Director Mia MacDonald on the expansion of industrialized dairy production in Asia, based on Brighter Green's latest policy paper, "Beyond the Pail: The Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia."

Small, Smart, & Green: Revolutionizing Organic Agriculture in West Africa

July 24, 2014 3:02pm
Grain Coast, Inc. Logo

Erwin Knippenberg is a guest blogger for Brighter Green.

Brighter Green sometimes features updates on agricultural changes, particularly the global South.


Sam Binda is a farmer like his father and his father before him. He grows okra, African eggplant and other vegetables to feed his family and sells whatever is left at his local market. As a member of CHAP —a community based farming organization—he pools his efforts with his neighbors, sharing tools and know-how. Sam is a Liberian, working to rebuild his country after a brutal 14-year civil war.

The Inequality of Climate Change

April 11, 2014 3:58pm

Bangladesh is at risk due to rising sea levels.

The front page of the New York Times on March 28th featured an article on the plight of Bangladesh—one of the countries most vulnerable to the rising temperatures and sea levels due to climate change. This is an example of the inequality of climate change; Bangladesh and other developing nations hardly contributed to the climate crisis, yet they are facing the gravest risks.

Brazil’s New Dietary Guidelines: Cook and Eat Whole Foods, Be Wary of Ads

March 13, 2014 12:11pm
Brazilian homes

Brazilian homes

By Mia MacDonald and Judy Bankman

This blog originally appeared on the Civil Eats website.

What if your national dietary guidelines advised you to cook and enjoy fresh, whole foods, and serve them with friends and family while thinking critically about advertising? Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Well, that’s exactly what Brazil’s Ministry of Health is recommending with the “food based” dietary guidelines it issued recently.

Got Milk?: New Policy Paper on Industrialized Dairy in Asia

February 24, 2014 9:30am
Dairy consumption is increasing all over Asia

Dairy consumption is increasing all over Asia

Brighter Green is excited to announce the release of a new policy paper exploring the growth of industrial dairy systems in India, China, and countries of Southeast Asia. The report, Beyond the Pail: The Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia, explores the trend toward increased dairy consumption and production and argues that the growth of industrial systems results in severe consequences for the environment, public health, animal welfare, and rural economies.

Sochi & Environmentalism (& Brighter Green's Primer in Russian)

February 17, 2014 3:53pm
Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi Olympic Park

Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi Olympic Park

Brighter Green is partnering with the Global Forest Coalition (GFC) and Biofuelwatch on a new project studying the intersection of deforestation, climate change, and industrial animal agriculture, in hopes of bringing attention to the connections between these issues at the global policy level. Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition recently produced a primer on this project that can be viewed here. We also recently translated this primer into Russian, opening it up to a wider audience. Russia is a significant importer of meat products from Latin America, where the livestock and feed industries are major players in the region's deforestation.

Russia also has been in the hot seat by environmental standards, as much controversy swirls around the Sochi Olympics. In 2007, when Russia received the bid for the games, the administrators claimed that they would work as hard as possible to be “green” and produce “zero waste,” but the past few weeks have revealed a lack of follow-through on these ambitious (and vague) promises.

American Hippopotamus: The Meat Question

January 8, 2014 8:00am
A yawning hippo in the wild

A yawning hippo in the wild

In 1910, Louisiana congressman Robert Broussard introduced a bill to import African Hippopotamuses to the swamplands of the U.S. Gulf Coast to supplement the U.S. food supply. Author Jon Mooallem’s longform nonfiction multimedia story “American Hippopotamus” published by The Atavist details the origins and tracks the fate of this idea, which ultimately never came to fruition. The piece is a fascinating narrative and profile of two of the proponents of this scheme, who were once enemies fighting on opposite sides of the Boer War: American scout Frederick Russell Burnham (The inspiration for Boy Scouts and Indiana Jones), and Fritz Duquesne.

Cruelty-Free and Sustainable Meat?

January 3, 2014 3:49pm
Would you eat a lab created burger?

Would you eat a lab created burger?

At the New York Academy of Sciences Frontiers in Agricultural Sustainability: Studying the Protein Supply Chain to Improve Dietary Quality seminar a few weeks ago, scientists unveiled a new and exciting development into sustainable and cruelty-free meat and leather (an oxymoron, to say the least): lab created meat and leather.

New York to Lead on Food and Climate Policy? Bill de Blasio and the "Foodprint" Resolution

December 23, 2013 5:04pm
Fruit for sale in NYC

Fruit for sale in NYC

This blog post originally appeared on the Civil Eats website.

Can progressive food and climate change policy and programs in the U.S.’ largest city begin with a “whereas”? New York may be about to find out. In 2009, a then-member of New York’s city council agreed to support a “Resolution to Reduce NYC’s Climate ‘Foodprint’” drafted by organizations with varied priorities but a shared rationale: Food and agriculture are significant contributors to global warming. New York City (NYC) could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and, at the same time, create a healthy, sustainable, and equitable food landscape for its eight million residents.

Update on Brazil: The Effects of the Soybean and Meat Industries

November 4, 2013 4:00pm
Soybean fields in Brazil

Soybean fields in Brazil

Brazil, the world's second largest producer and exporter of soybean, and the world's largest exporter of poultry, reports a 39 percent drop in greenhouse-gas emissions between 2005 and 2010.

However, this "good news" is not all its cracked up to be. For the first time, greenhouse-gas emissions from the agriculture industry make up the largest share of Brazil's total emissions.

Chipotle's Bold Move Towards Food With Integrity

October 8, 2013 10:47am
Chipotle's menu, displaying how they source their foods

Chipotle's menu, displaying how they source their foods

In response to Chipotle's new harrowing ad depicting the realities of factory farming, the Executive Director for the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance said that "It's a fabrication of how food is produced and fabrication that drives the sales for the food they produce".

Well, that is simply not true.

Junk Food Marketing Makes Big Moves in Developing Countries

October 3, 2013 10:56am

KFC marketing in China has targeted the rising middle class and capitalized on their aspirations.

By Judy Bankman and Ross Miranti

This blog originally appeared on the Civil Eats website.

KFC TV commercials that have aired in China over the last few years reveal a remarkably wide range of marketing techniques. In the ads, humor, irony, playfulness, and sentimentality present the restaurant’s quick-serve food as something that can help families bond, nourish athletes, entertain children, and even make teenagers cooler. Overall, the ads associate KFC with a modern lifestyle, suggesting (implicitly of course) that the Chinese can get their piece of middle class affluence–along with a full belly–for a reasonably low price.

India and the Hidden Consequences of the Nutrition Transition

September 4, 2013 9:28am
An egg seller chats on his phone in India

An egg seller chats on his phone in India

Note: This blog originally appeared on the Civil Eats website.

In India today, hordes of people under 30 line up outside McDonald’s to order the Chicken Maharaja Mac: India’s beef-free version of the Big Mac. Fast food and sodas are “all the rage now,” in the country according to public health activist Shobha Shukla.