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News at Brighter Green

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.

BG Partner Global Forest Coalition Releases Paraguayan Case Study 5/22/14

Brighter Green partner Global Forest Coalition publishes Paraguayan case study on the environmental and social impacts of unsustainable livestock and soybean production.

Brighter Green and Global Forest Coalition New Report and Briefing Paper 5/22/14

Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition announce the release of a new report and briefing paper on redirecting government support for unsustainable livestock production as the key to biodiversity conservation.

Brighter Green Appears in the Scientific American Magazine 5/20/14

The Scientific American article "China's Appetite for Meat Swells, Along with Climate Changing Pollution" references Brighter Green research as well as quotes Executive Director Mia MacDonald and Associate Wanqing Zhou.

What's For Dinner? Page on Icarus Website 5/9/14

Brighter Green's short documentary film What's For Dinner? is now featured on Icarus Films' website, WFD's North American distributor. Visit the website for more information on screening or purchasing the film.

Brighter Green Releases Policy Brief of "Beyond the Pail: the Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia" 4/28/14

Brighter Green released the policy brief for the most recent policy paper, Beyond the Pail: the Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia. The brief, available here, provides a succinct summary of the paper and recommendations.

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.

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Skillful Means: A New Report from Brighter Green

August 19, 2008 2:11pm
Breeding Sow

Breeding Sow in a Medium-Sized Farm, Eastern China (Picture: Peter Li/HSI/CIWF)

New York–based policy action tank Brighter Green’s new report, Skillful Means: The Challenges of China’s Encounter with Factory Farming (PDF) explores the emerging superpower’s “livestock revolution,” which is having serious impacts on public health, food security, and equity in China—and the world. The Beijing Summer Olympics are showcasing a resurgent nation, which only two generations after a devastating national famine is eating increasingly high on the food chain. In the past ten years, consumption of China’s most popular meat, pork, has doubled. In 2007, China raised well over half a billion pigs for meat.

Given that every fifth person in the world is Chinese, even small increases in individual meat or dairy consumption will have broad, collective environmental as well as climate impacts. Increasingly, what the Chinese eat, and how China produces its food, affects not only China, but the world, too.

“When I was a child, every person was allotted one pound of pork a month,” says Peter Li, a professor of political science at the University of Houston in Texas who grew up in Jiangxi province in southeast China says in Eating Skillfully. “We could not eat more than that. You could not get it. Now, though, more people have access to more meat and want to eat a lot of it.”

In yuan terms, meat is the second largest segment of China’s retail food market. China has also opened its doors to investments by major multinational meat and dairy producers, as well as animal feed corporations, including Tyson Foods, Smithfield, and Novus International. Western-style meat culture has gone mainstream. Fast food is a U.S. $28-billion-a-year business in China. McDonald’s, a major sponsor of the Olympics, had more than 800 restaurants in China, with at least a hundred more set to open by the time the games began. Four McDonald’s are operating in Olympic venues, including the press center and the athletes’ village.

“China is not yet a bone fida “factory farm nation” like the U.S.,” says Mia MacDonald, Brighter Green’s executive director and co-author of Skillful Means. “But the strains of its fast-growing livestock sector are becoming harder to ignore. In the U.S., a re-examination of the multiple human, environmental, economic, and ethical costs of factory farming is taking place. Such a process needs to get underway in China—before it’s too late.”

Although these realities won’t be fully obvious to the millions of people cheering on the Olympic athletes in China and across the globe, they demand attention:
  • China’s livestock produce 2.7 billion tons of manure every year, nearly three and a half times the industrial solid waste level. Run-off from livestock operations have created a large “dead zone” in the South China Sea that is virtually devoid of marine life.
  • In northern China, overgrazing and overfarming lead to the loss of nearly a million acres of grassland each year to desert.
  • Diet-related chronic diseases now kill more Chinese than any other cause, and nearly one in four Chinese is overweight.
  • More than 90 percent of some bacteria in Asia can no longer be treated effectively with “first-line” antibiotics like penicillin—due to their overuse in farmed animals.
  • China can still feed itself. But this is likely to change as its meat and dairy sectors expand and intensify. The Chinese government is looking abroad, not only to international food markets but also to Africa, Latin America, and other parts of Asia for land on which to produce food for people and feed for livestock.
  • In 2008, China surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s leading emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2). Per capita emissions of CO2 in China have more than doubled, from 2.1 tons of CO2 equivalent in 1990 to 5.1 tons today. Meat and dairy production have a direct relationship with global climate change: fully 18 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stem from the livestock industry.

Even though the Chinese government seems set on emulating industrialized nations’ meat and dairy culture, a small but growing number of Chinese non-governmental organizations and individuals are questioning this path. To them food quality, not quantity, is important, along with issues of sustainability and animal welfare.

Eating Skillfully recommends the following actions to both the Chinese government and civil society:
  • The government ought to redefine its conception of short- and long-term food security so it doesn’t give priority to a meat-centered diet. Meat in China ought to be, as it was, a condiment and not the mainstay of a meal.
  • Government subsidies that now support the expansion of industrial-scale livestock operations, owned by Chinese or foreign companies, should be ended.
  • The “externalities” on which animal agriculture is dependent—such as riverine and marine water pollution, contamination of soil and groundwater, and land degradation—should be paid for, in full, by the industry and/or specific facilities that cause them.
  • Increased sharing of information and experiences of industrial animal agriculture should take place among policy-makers, academics, and civil society groups in China and other countries, both developing and developed.
  • A forum for dialogue between the government and China’s and global animal welfare, environment and other civil society organizations should be established.
  • The growing environmental movement in China ought to include the issue of intensive animal agriculture within its analysis, awareness-raising, and advocacy activities, and collaborate with civil society groups working on related issues.

Contact: Mia MacDonald, Brighter Green, New York, E-mail: macdonald@brightergreen.org (After August 26: Tel: (1) 917 202 2809).

Peter Li, University of Houston, Texas
Tel: (1) 832-647-6518. E-mail: LiP@uhd.edu