Photo: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Old MacDonald had a farm -- one resounding with oinks and moos and squawks. By today's standards, the old man's farm would count as a model of biodiversity. Researcher Mia MacDonald points out that across the planet, old ways of farming are giving way to the environmentally devastating factory farms we've pioneered in the West -- typically housing a single species of animal, confined by the thousands in conditions that would be alien to Old MacDonald's pigs and cows and chickens. For modern industrial-scale animal farms, the proper literary form is the scathing environmental report, not the children's ditty.
At Brighter Green, an action think tank that helps advocacy groups take informed action through research and analysis, MacDonald is currently at work on a series of case studies on the spread of factory-style farming across the globe. She's cutting straight to the chase: China, the world's biggest nation, is the subject of the first case study.
I caught up with Mia to discuss Brighter Green's new report, "Skillful Means: The Challenges of China's Encounter with Factory Farming" [PDF], which delves into China, meat, and the connection with our climate.
In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization published a 390-page report called “Livestock’s Long Shadow.” The dense document came to a startling conclusion: Livestock production — including land-use changes for pasture and crop production — contributes more to global warming than every single car, train, and plane on the planet. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of […]
When we talk about the crisis in food prices, we should scrape below the surface to explore who's actually benefiting from the crisis.
A recent Financial Times displayed this staggering map of the globe: Black dots marked each of the countries were food riots have been sparked in outrage against the rising prices of food. Thirty dots in all. A recent CNN report noted that "Riots, instability spread as food prices skyrocket." These surging costs, warns World Bank President Robert Zoellick, "could mean 'seven lost years' in the fight against worldwide poverty."