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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.

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China's Meat-y Present...and the Global Future?

November 13, 2012 12:00pm

Pigs in China

In the last two decades China has been transformed from a predominantly vegetarian society to a society that is responsible for consumption of one-fourth of the world’s meat supply. This transformation is the result of several factors, including China’s rising discretionary income, the global food trade, meat’s long held status of social elitism, and the rapid spread of Western-style fast food, including McDonald’s locations.

But as a result, China is facing a huge challenge. It's one that's unlikely to be on the agenda this week as China's once-in-a-decade leadership transition takes place. It lacks the physical space required to sustain a high meat diet. China’s per capita volume of arable land is the lowest in the world, at only fourteen percent, and the amount of land needed to produce the grain to sustain a meat-based diet is three to seven times higher than the land needed to sustain a plant-based diet.

China, although traditionally self-sufficient in food despite its huge population, the world's largest, has turned to feed and meat imports for the first time in decades. This comes at a high cost, however, as China’s dependence on foreign imports contribute to price spikes for commodities like corn and soy.*

Furthermore, China has turned to increasingly controversial global land deals to overcome its lack of arable cropland and to meet domestic demand for livestock feed. The country is eyeing new sources for feed across the globe, recently forming an agreement with Ukraine’s largest agri-business. And the former head of China’s Tyson Meats suggests China look to the fallow lands of the United States and Brazil as viable prospects for land for feed growth.

Scientists note that this strained demand for animal products and the required cropland is a path to global crises. Chinese agricultural expert and dean of Renmin Agricultural University, Wen Tiejun, asserts, “It’s not possible to feed everyone so much meat.” A recent Stockhold International Water Institute report warns that a worldwide predominantly vegan diet must be reached by 2050 to curb global food and water shortage crises. These are only two examples of many.

Agribusiness has spoken and experts have spoken, but who will the world listen to? As the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization projects a significant rise in meat consumption by seventy-three percent in the next forty years, will policy-makers heed expert warnings and overturn this projection, or is China’s current path a forecast for what’s to come the world over?

*See Brighter Green’s former blog to understand the link between feed supply and food price spikes.

Photo courtesy Xie Zheng