Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Email:
YouTube Facebook Twitter

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.

View News Archive

RSS

It's World Food Day

October 16, 2012 3:16pm
Filed under:

Shape of things to come? Nairobi KFC, the first in East Africa

Note: this blog was published originally on FoodDay.org for World Food Day. Food Day is October 24, 2012.

It was an astounding sight: a huge image of a beaming Colonel Sanders. The jacaranda tree in front of the shopping plaza made clear that I was in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, and not a garden variety U.S. strip mall. This was the first KFC in East Africa and, the newspapers said, lines stretched around the corner on opening day.

In a globalizing, urbanizing, and increasingly interconnected world, the reach and appeal of U.S. fast food seems almost boundless. This reality makes for some odd juxtapositions: a McDonald’s outside the main Olympic stadium in Beijing. It’s the only food outlet in sight, and one of more than 1,500 McDonald’s in China; a new one’s opening each day.

It’s not just American fast food that’s going global; many aspects of the U.S. food system itself are. That means a priority on mass production of animals for meat, dairy, and eggs, cereals, and crops like corn and soybeans that play a huge role in the feeding farmed animals. Perhaps astonishingly, the combined “harvested acres” of vegetables and pulses (beans and lentils) in the U.S. are just 2 percent of the total.

But this system doesn’t fit the bill for a world where climate change, resource scarcity, hunger, and food insecurity are all-too-real, and concern for food justice, animal welfare, and real equity and sustainability are growing. It’s something that Food Day, October 24th, offers a terrific opportunity to explore.

This summer’s severe drought in the U.S. offers one object lesson and shows the flaws and fragility of the industrial agriculture model. Corn and soybeans –together a majority of U.S. “farm acres” – took a beating. The U.S. is the world’s top producer and exporter of corn and also a significant producer and exporter of soybeans. Millions of dollars each year in subsidies to producers help ensure this.

Because corn and soybeans are major ingredients in the feed most farmed animals in the U.S. and elsewhere eat, livestock producers saw their costs skyrocket. Among the results: rising prices for animal-based foods, not only in the U.S. but globally, as well, and a large-scale slaughter now underway of millions of pigs and cattle who can’t be fed.

Each year, nearly 70 billion land animals are used in food production around the world, a number that could reach 100 billion by 2050. Development of industrial livestock production over the past half century made it possible to raise large numbers of animals in extreme confinement in indoor facilities. These factory farms and feedlots are now central to U.S. agriculture, and increasingly, the world’s.

India, where ethical vegetarianism has a long history, is now the world’s fifth biggest producer of poultry meat, and 90 percent of the two billion chickens that come to market each year in India have been raised in factory farm-like conditions. In China, factory farming is also making inroads, helped by international and domestic investment. Production and consumption of animal products is rising fast. China raises and slaughters more than half a billion pigs a year and the Chinese now eat more meat than any other country (double U.S. consumption).

Work by Brighter Green and a small but growing cadre of scientists and institutions suggests that the pattern cannot hold. Raising animals for food is highly grain-, water-, and land-intensive, and the global livestock sector is a key emitter of climate-warming greenhouse gases.

A study released in August at an international water conference included a stark warning: "There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations.” The scientists suggested that at most 5 percent of total calories from animal-based foods might be realistic, if certain conditions were also met.

Interestingly, McDonald’s is opening a fully vegetarian outpost in India’s holy city of Amritsar. Is this the shape of things to come?

What isn’t in doubt is this: we all have a role in bringing about a more sustainable, equitable, humane and climate-compatible food system -- as citizens, advocates, farmers, eaters, researchers, producers, and thinkers and doers, here and around the world. The recipe’s pretty clear, and the ingredients (facts, principles, examples) are within our reach