Subscribe to Our Newsletter

YouTube Facebook Twitter

News at Brighter Green

Executive Director Mia MacDonald Quoted in Civil Eats Article 1/26/15

Executive Director Mia MacDonald was quoted in Advisory Board member Anna Lappe's article on Chatham House's recent study on peoples' understanding of climate change and food, particularly meat production. You can view the Civil Eats article here.

New Report Released by Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition on the Unsustainable Impacts of Livestock and Soybean Production in Paraguay 1/22/15

Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition, published a new report entitled, "Meat from a Landscape Under Threat: Testimonies of the Impacts of Unsustainable Livestock and Soybean Production in Paraguay". You can access the report here.

Brighter Green Featured in NYC Meatless Monday Press Release 1/22/15

Brighter Green and Executive Director Mia MacDonald were featured in NYC City Council Representative Helen Rosenthal's press release on the push for NYC to adopt the Meatless Monday campaign.

Executive Director Mia MacDonald Appears on Our Hen House's Highlight Reel Podcast Episode 1/10/15

Brighter Green Executive Director Mia MacDonald appears on Our Hen House's highlight reel episode on January 10th. The original TV episode can be viewed here.

East African Girls' Leadership Initiative Program Update 1/10/15

Brighter Green and Tribal Link released a January Program Update on the East African Girls' Leadership Initiative. You can access it here.

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.

View News Archive


Ethanol Contributes to Food Price Spikes - But So Does Meat

October 31, 2012 12:13pm
Typical corn based animal feed

Typical corn-based animal feed

The United States’ ethanol policy has been identified as a major contributor to the global spike in food prices in recent years, accounting for 20 to 40 percentof the price surges in 2008. The issue isn’t simply our food supply being used as fuel, instead it is the competition for arable crop land that is contributing to price spikes. Land that could be used to grow corn for animal feed is instead being used to grow corn biofuel.

However, in addition to crop land competition, a diet high in animal products also contributes to price spikes. Nearly all corn exported from the United States is in the form of animal feed, and competition for arable land results in a surge of feed export prices. Higher feed prices then lead farmers to seek alternative forms of feed such as wheat, sorghum, or food corn. This increase in demand then drives up local market staple prices, predominately in developing countries. In other words, animal feed is competing with the human food supply, causing the price of generally affordable grains and pulses to surge. In fact, this competition was responsible for the Mexico tortilla crisis of recent years in which tortilla prices rose by nearly 70 percent.

Global demand for animal feed has increased dramatically in recent years as more countries adopt western diets high in meat, dairy, and eggs. And with a projected increase in meat and dairy consumption of 73 and 58 percent respectively by 2050, the USDA projects the global demand for corn feed will continue to rise steadily in the coming decades.

Decreasing ethanol production will help increase food security for the burgeoning world population. But this is only one aspect of the solution. We must understand the inefficiency of our current food system in order to truly appreciate the problem. For example, it requires about sixteen pounds of feed to produce a single pound of beef, according to research by Diet for a Small Planet author and Brighter Green advisory board member Frances Moore Lappé. One solution to this problem is to modify global eating habits and stop the expansion of an inefficient western diet and western style industrial factory farms.

Decreasing animal product consumption will reduce the demand for corn feed and open crop land for production of high protein, healthy foods for direct human consumption. Not only wil this eliminate commodity spikes by reducing competition for animal feed production but additionally, harvest for direct human crops requires less arable land per caloric intake than do animal-derived foods and animal feed, thereby this will reduce the current crop land competition with biofuel.

Photo courtesy wattpublishing/Flickr