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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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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 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