Climate, Food Security, & Growth: Ethiopia’s Complex Relationship
With Livestock (22 pages) by Mia MacDonald & Sangamithra Iyer
Cattle, Soyanization, & Climate Change: Brazil’s Agricultural
Revolution (42 pages)
Skillful Means: The Challenge of China’s Encounter With Factory
Farming (28 pages)
both by Mia MacDonald & Justine Simon, from Brighter Green, 2011.
Free downloads from: http://brightergreen.org/brightergreen.php?id=24
Reviewed by Merritt Clifton
Like Veg or Non-Veg? India at the Crossroads, published in 2012, these slightly earlier reports from the Brighter Green ecological think-tank on the growth of animal agriculture in Brazil, China, and Ethiopia present a wealth of footnoted data, summaries of economic and environmental challenges, evaluations of the factors driving agribusiness in each nation, and recommendations specific to each nation, urging its government to de-emphasize promoting the livestock industry.
Brighter Green sees in Ethiopia “the need for new means for rural Ethiopians to store wealth apart from livestock,” and a need for “destocking ruminant herds,” because “Ethiopia’s environment cannot sustain the current population of domestic animals.”
This contradicts the direction of livestock gift charities such as Heifer International, and of most international development agencies.
Brighter Green emphasizes in China the need to avoid repeating western mistakes in transitioning from a food culture evolved in response to frequent famine to a culture of food abundance.
“Since 1980,” Brighter Green points out, “overall meat consumption in China has quadrupled,” about half the per capita level of meat consumption in the U.S., “and is continuing to rise.”
With four times as many people to feed as the U.S., China has already passed the U.S. in total meat production and consumption, and in the global ecological impact of its meat industry.
The government of China “ought to redefine its conception of short-and-long-term food security,” Brighter Green suggests. “This doesn’t mean consigning a majority of Chinese citizens to what researcher Jiang Jingsong refers to as the ‘enforced vegetarianism of poverty,’ but rather orienting the agricultural economy toward
supplying varied, nutritious, safe, plant-centered foods to all Chinese, regardless of social status, income, or where they live.”
In addition, Brighter Green urges, “Political openness ought to be encouraged so that voices questioning intensive animal farming and promoting sustainability and a healthy lifestyle can be heard.”
In Brazil, as well as making conventional recommendations about the need to protect the Amazon rainforest, because of the climate-stabilizing effects of the region on the global ecosystem, Brighter Green suggests that “The government ought to adopt a set of far-reaching animal-welfare policies that would end the abuses inherent in the factory-farm system.”
Brighter Green believes that “Brazil could be an important leader in shifting such policies and practices internationally.”