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News at Brighter Green

Brighter Green's film What's For Dinner? to be featured in the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital 3/21/14

Brighter Green's short film What's For Dinner? was recently selected to appear in the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. It appeared on March 19th at 12PM in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, along with a discussion partnering with the China Environment Forum.

Associate Sangamithra Iyer Publishes eBook 3/5/14

Brighter Green Associate Sangamithra Iyer publishes an eBook entitled The Lines We Draw distributed by Hen Press, the publishing arm of Our Hen House. The book explores the boundaries — physical, biological, and ethical — evolved out of a conversation with the late Dr. Alfred Prince, a hepatitis researcher, about the use of chimpanzees in medical research, and is expanded into a larger discussion about ethics.

Brighter Green Releases New Policy Paper on Industrialized Dairy in Asia 2/20/14

Brighter Green releases their newest policy paper Beyond the Pail: the Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia exploring the trend toward increased dairy consumption and production in Asia and argues that the growth of industrial systems results in severe consequences for the environment, public health, animal welfare, and rural economies. You may access the paper here.

Brighter Green Presents at the Ivy League Vegan Conference 2/7/14

Brighter Green Executive Director Mia MacDonald and Associate Sangamithra Iyer present a session entitled "The Global Diet & Sustainability: Multi-country Perspectives" at the Ivy League Vegan Conference at Princeton University. The conference is in its third year and is dedicated to exploring veganism and bioethics.

Brighter Green Documentary What's For Dinner? Launches Chinese Website 1/1/14

Brighter Green documentary What's For Dinner? launches Chinese website. This will increase awareness of the issues raised in What's For Dinner? and allow individuals in China to learn more about the film.

Brighter Green Documentary What's For Dinner? Signs Distribution Deal 12/20/13

Brighter Green documentary What's For Dinner? signs with Icarus Films, a well known
independent film distributor, to help ensure that What's For Dinner? is screened widely.

Brighter Green End-of-Year Newsletter 12/19/13

Take a look at our most recent Brighter Green newsletter where we announce some of our recent accomplishments as well as what we have planned for 2014. You can read the newsletter here.

Executive Director Mia MacDonald on Katerva Awards Panel 12/6/13

Brighter Green Executive Director Mia MacDonald participated on the Food Security Impact panel as a part of the Katerva Awards.

At COP 19, Global Landscapes Forum Calls for Change 11/27/13

COP 19's Global Landscapes Forum, where Brighter Green co-sponsored a side event, released a statement calling for a new approach to tackling climate change, food insecurity, and poverty saying that "fragmentation is our enemy". The statement calls for the need to "work together across landscapes".

Brighter Green Submits Policy Recommendations at Global Landscapes Forum 11/18/13

Brighter Green submits policy recommendations with Global Forest Coalition after the networking panel session "Land, landscapes, livestock, and farms". For more information please read about Brighter Green's involvement in COP 19 here.

Brighter Green in Outreach Magazine at COP 19 11/15/13

Brighter Green publishes an article entitled "Industrial animal agriculture: acknowledging industrial livestock production as a driver of forest loss" in Outreach, a multi-stakeholder magazine on climate change and sustainable development distributed at COP 19. The article is based on a project addressing livestock production as a driver of deforestation between Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition.

Brighter Green Cosponsors a Panel at the Global Landscapes Forum at COP 19 11/14/13

Brighter Green is cosponsoring a panel at the Global Landscapes Forum in Warsaw at COP 19. The forum, with exhibitions and panels, will focus on environmental change and development, linking farming, forestry, and other land uses. Geoffrey Evans from Humane Society International [HSI] will be speaking for Brighter Green, HSI, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals. The forum will take place from November 16-17, 2013 in Warsaw.

Brighter Green Produces Policy Document with Human Society International and the World Society for the Protection of Animals 11/11/13

Brighter Green, Humane Society International, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals, produced a policy document making a case for why the Conference of Parties (COP 19) should address animal agriculture and the global climate crisis. The document will be distributed at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP 19) in Warsaw, Poland from November 11-22, 2013.

BG and the Global Forest Coalition Expand Biodiversity Laws in Joint Paper 10/28/13

Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition expand biodiversity laws on their joint paper: Industrial Agriculture, Livestock Farming, and Climate Change: Global Social, Cultural, Ecological, and Ethical Impacts of an Unsustainable Industry.

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Message on a (Big) Platter

February 13, 2008 6:15pm
Filed under:
Rainforest cattle

73 million and counting

News about food—and its consequences—has been coming fast and furious. The World Food Program warns that demand for biofuels and meat is pushing up food prices, threatening more people in the global south with acute hunger. (See previous blog). A new report from Friends of the Earth-Brazilian Amazon has this alarming news: despite many efforts to dissuade purchasers of “rainforest beef” the Brazilian Amazon is becoming an epi-center of cattle production. In 2007, for the first time, 10 million Amazonian cattle were slaughtered for meat. The total cattle population in the rainforest reached 73 million, according to the report. Brazil is now the world’s 2nd largest beef producer, after the U.S. (which buys significant amounts of Brazilian beef). Cattle numbers have risen by a third since 1996 and, at 200 million, outstrips Brazil’s human population.

The era of “cheap food” is over. Already, milk and meat prices are rising in the U.S. Economist Robert Samuelson, writing in the Washington Post, concedes that if this encourages people to eat fewer animal products, that is, eat healthier, that would be good. But he and others worry about farmers and eaters in the poorer regions of the world. Some may be rewarded—like those busy clearing the Amazon—by higher prices for commodity and feed crops. But at what cost to the local and global environment? The Amazon serves as the world’s lungs, capturing and clearing carbon dioxide. As forests and other indigenous vegetation are cleared, this capacity is reduced. Even as the Earth needs the Amazon more as the climate changes, some studies suggest that during this century the region could become a desert.

Many small-scale farmers and herders in the global south are already being hit hard by climate shocks (see earlier blog on cattle and climate). Drought, irregular rainfall and spreading deserts are more and more the norm. Most commodity crop farmers operate at large-scales. They’re corporations, not collectives. So poor farmers are being left out of the commodity boom, as they are out of the meat-consumption boom, even as precious natural resources like land and water are being used—in reality used up—further scrabbling prospects for equity and sustainability. Closer to home, a recent study from Tufts University’s Global Environment and Development Institute, demonstrates another crazy-quilt aspect of all of this. Industrial animal farms in the U.S. received a subsidy of $3.9 billion each year between 1997 and 2005, according to the report, because they paid below-cost for feed crops like corn and soy…because these crops were heavily subsidized by the U.S. government and overproduced by large commodity farmers (really corporations). That’s a $35 billion advantage to factory farms over the course of a decade—and the heart of U.S. farm policy.

Cheap food no longer looks so cheap. In reality, it never was. Instead, it was Big Ag, with U.S. government support, creating (to paraphrase a recent Bill Clinton line that, admittedly, didn’t go over so well) one of the biggest fairy tales we’ve ever seen. Now they’re taking that show on the road, trying to sell cheap food and mass production methods, including vast quantities of meat and dairy, in other parts of the world not yet saturated. Can they succeed? Population growth and environmental devastation, including the big kahuna of climate change, suggest they can’t. But the desire for new profit centers means they’ll try—very, very hard. Stay tuned, and attuned. In the meantime, stay nourished. Check out the PB&J campaign. It’s a home-grown effort to encourage Americans to eat fewer animals and animal products—and reduce their personal greenhouse gas emissions—by eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. (Soy milk is optional…this soy doesn’t come from the Amazon, at least not yet.)