Major meat companies and industry lobby groups are planning a large presence at COP28 in a few days time, equipped with a communications plan to get a pro-meat message heard by policymakers throughout the summit, DeSmog can reveal. Documents seen by DeSmog and the Guardian show that the meat industry is poised to “tell its story and tell it well” in the lead up and during the Dubai conference, which comes on the heels of the world’s hottest ever year. The files relate how the world’s largest meat company, JBS, is planning to come out in “full force” at the summit, along with other big industry hitters such as the Global Dairy Platform and the North American Meat Institute.
This October 16, 2023, we, the peasants of the world, once again call to commemorate the International Day of Action for Peoples’ Food Sovereignty against Transnational Corporations. On this day, the global movement for Food Sovereignty denounces the control of food systems in the hands of agribusiness transnationals, a global corporate network that is intensifying the hunger of millions of people in the world, as well as the massification of malnutrition as a chronic disease of the new generations. It is unacceptable that more and more people in the world are going hungry and that food insecurity is intensifying, affecting one third of the world’s population.
As some of the biggest companies – in particular meat and dairy firms – grow more concerned about their climate-villain images, they are turning to greenwashing techniques: well-known tactics deployed by oil and gas industries to shift the debate away from meaningful action. Often valid concepts in and of themselves, the problem lies in how they are touted as enviro-friendly actions while companies fail to cut their contribution to global heating. The agriculture industry has a lot to be worried about. Meat emits around a third of global emissions of methane, and action to cut this greenhouse gas has been identified by the UN and world leaders as the quickest route to slowing global heating. Farming also relies on synthetic fertilisers that are both fossil-fuel-based and emit greenhouse gases, and drives deforestation.
As the adage goes, when you find yourself stuck in a hole, stop digging. As African leaders and their philanthropic and bilateral sponsors prepare for another glitzy African Green Revolution Forum, convening September 5-8 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, they are instead handing out new shovels to dig the continent deeper into a hunger crisis caused in part by their failing obsession with corporate-led industrialized agriculture. Instead of cutting food insecurity in half, as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) promised at its founding in 2006, the continent has spiraled in the opposite direction.
The prevailing globalised agrifood model is built on unjust trade policies, the leveraging of sovereign debt, population displacement and land dispossession. It fuels commodity monocropping and food insecurity as well as soil and environmental degradation. It is responsible for increasing rates of illness, nutrient-deficient diets, a narrowing of the range of food crops, water shortages, chemical runoffs, increasing levels of farmer indebtedness, the undermining and destruction of local communities and the eradication of biodiversity. The model relies on a policy paradigm that privileges urbanisation, global markets, long supply chains, external proprietary inputs, highly processed food and market (corporate) dependency.
Early on a cool spring morning, in far Downeast Maine, Severine von Tscharner Welcome and her husband, Terran, scrambled along a point jutting into Cobscook Bay. The Passamaquoddy people named the bay Kapskuk after the immense tides and wild currents that make the water seem to boil. These turbulent waters support a rich array of life, including Atlantic salmon, sturgeon, and alewives, as well as many edible species of seaweed. Harvesting in a spot that’s accessible fewer than 20 days per year, during negative tides, Welcome pulled a long strand of alaria, a golden ruffled kelp, from the riffles.
In the spring of 2020, the European Union announced an ambitious plan to overhaul farming practices in fields and valleys across the continent. Named Farm to Fork, it calls for less fertiliser and pesticide use, and more organic production. Veteran sustainable food and farming experts welcomed the strategy as one that just might have a genuine shot at transforming the agriculture sector and result in better public health, contribute to ending the vertiginous decline of biodiversity, and lower greenhouse gas pollution. The response from Europe’s powerful industrial agriculture sector was swift and unequivocal: Farm to Fork will result in disaster. “Lower yields”, “higher food prices”, “unviable incomes for farmers”’ are among the outcomes predicted by an army of Brussels lobbyists, who are employed by the agrochemical industry and its allies in the intensive farming sector.
Farming initiatives at COP27 will be dominated by agri-business players and will lack farmers’ voices, sustainable campaigners and small-holders organisations have warned ahead of the global summit’s day devoted to agriculture. For the first time, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathered in these days in Egypt will address food systems and agriculture. A dedicated Agriculture and Food Pavillion at the COP27 premises has been set by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the global partnership Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and the philanthropic organisation Rockefeller Foundation.
A US-led sustainable farming initiative, which aims to raise billions of dollars to tackle climate change, has been criticized for favouring big business and promoting uncertain techno-fixes ahead of U.N. climate talks in Egypt in November. Launched at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow last year by the U.S. and United Arab Emirates governments, the AIM for Climate (Aim4C) coalition pledged to accelerate innovation in agriculture and food systems to support climate action. Alongside 40 states, partners include major agribusinesses, such as Brazilian meat giant JBS, and agricultural trade groups such as CropLife International, as well as research centres such as the University of Edinburgh’s Climate Change Institute. Multi-billion-dollar nonprofits the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Nature Conservancy are also taking part.
The nitrogen problem in Agriculture is a problem created by synthetic nitrogen fertilizers made from fossil fuels. Nitrogen fertilizers contribute to atmospheric pollution and climate change in the manufacture and the use of fertilizers. The manufacture of synthetic fertilizer is highly energy intensive. One kg of nitrogen fertilizer requires the energy equivalent of 2 liters of diesel. Energy used during fertilizer manufacture was equivalent to 191 billion liters of diesel in 2000 and is projected to rise to 277 billion in 2030. This is a major contributor to climate change, yet largely ignored. One kilogram of phosphate fertilizer requires half a liter of diesel. Nitrogen fertilizers also emit a greenhouse gas, N2O, which is 300 times more destabilizing for the Climate System than CO2.
The decriminalization which is sweeping across the US carries with it the obvious facts that (a) pot is not and never has been a dangerous drug, and (b) criminalizing drugs has never brought anything positive. This suggests that those who have been victimized were done so wrongfully and therefore should be compensated for the wrongs done to them. However, victims have been predominantly people of color and American racism reappears during the decriminalization phase in the form of trivializing harms done and offering restitution that barely scratch the surface of what is needed. Prior to addressing the shortcomings for wrongful damages for marijuana laws, the US should publicly apologize for the wrongheaded and thoroughly racist “War on Drugs” and pledge to compensate those who have suffered from it in ways that are comparable to cannabis-related issues below.
The San Joaquin Valley in California is the most agriculturally productive farmland in the United States, but it is also plagued by high levels of poverty and water pollution, as well as the serious health risks that come with constant exposure to pesticides. These huge corporate farms in California, established over the last century, became the model for modern agrobusiness designed to exploit a transient labor force, bankrupt, and seize small family farms, exhaust the soil, and drain the aquifers and reservoirs. These agrobusinesses use their economic might to buy elected officials, deform the court system to legalize their assault on the land, and silence criticism in academia and the press.
After fighting for almost a year, farmers in India finally won a victory against the three farms laws enacted by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government last year. Prime minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday, November 19, that the three laws would be repealed and all legal processes related to the matter will be completed during the upcoming session of parliament.