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Big Ag

Over 600 Attacks Against 20,000 Human Rights Defenders In 2023

Mining, big agribusiness, and the fossil fuel sectors have unleashed an astronomical spate of attacks on human rights defenders (HRDs) throughout 2023. Crucially, perpetrators linked to companies and projects in these sectors account for the majority of over 600 attacks across the course of the year. This is according to a new damning report by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC). Staggering scale of attacks against human rights defenders On Tuesday 7 May, the BHRRC published its annual briefing on attacks against HRDs. Alarmingly, the data recorded 630 attacks which directly impacted an estimated 20,000 people. In particular, these were those involved in speaking out against business-related harms during 2023.

What Are ‘Food Barons’ And Why Should You Care?

I’ve known Austin Frerick since 2019, when he was a researcher at the Open Markets Institute. After he became a fellow at Yale’s Thurmond Arnold Project, another anti-monopoly thinktank, we collaborated to report a feature for Vox on “The Hog Barons.” He’s gone on to expand this idea to a full book, titled Barons: Money, Power, and the Corruption of America’s Food Industry, that provides a portrait of our food system through stories of its oligarchs. Austin enlisted me for some editorial consultation while the book was under contract, and today I asked him a few questions about the book and how it helps us understand American food system.

Farm Organizations Announce National ‘Enough Is Enough Tour’

Sixteen farm organizations announced the launch of the national Enough Is Enough Tour in protest of government policies that drive consolidation of the food system into the hands of the largest multinational corporations to the detriment of farmers and ranchers. With Congress preparing to debate the farm bill during prime planting and calving season, restricting farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to bring their voices to Washington D.C., farm groups will gather at events in at least five states to call on members of Congress to deliver a bill that levels the playing field.

US Banks ‘Sabotaging’ Climate Targets By Financing Meat And Dairy

A new study has found that 58 banks in the United States are “sabotaging” their own net-zero commitments by providing financing to meat, dairy and animal feed corporations. Research for the report, Bull in the Climate Shop: Industrial livestock financing sabotages major U.S. banks’ climate commitments, was conducted by U.S. environmental nonprofit Friends of the Earth and Profundo, a research group based in the Netherlands. From 2016 to 2023, $134 billion in loans and underwriting was provided to meat, dairy, food processing, animal feed and agri-commodity corporations by 58 U.S. banks, according to the report.

The Livestock Industry Has Side-Stepped Scrutiny Again

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made headlines around the world this week by voting to move forward with rules that will require public companies to disclose climate-related business risks to investors. Some lawmakers have welcomed the mandate from the U.S.’s most powerful financial regulator, which will now force firms to share at least some emissions data. But climate and environment campaigners are concerned about loopholes in the new rules, which have failed to include “Scope 3,” i.e. indirect, greenhouse gas emissions.

Meat Industry Using ‘Misinformation’ To Block Dietary Change

The agriculture sector has spent millions of dollars on discrediting plant-based diets, a new report has claimed. The report, published by the consumer advocacy organisation Freedom Food Alliance on Thursday (29 February), found that multinational meat companies and lobby groups were using industry-funded research, public ad campaigns and educational materials to sway public opinion on meat and dairy. The Disinformation Report: Harvesting Denial, Distractions & Deception suggests that the industry is sidestepping accountability for its role in greenhouse emissions.

Prisoners Are A Hidden Workforce Linked To Popular Food Brands

Angola, LA - A hidden path to America’s dinner tables begins here, at an unlikely source – a former Southern slave plantation that is now the country’s largest maximum-security prison. Unmarked trucks packed with prison-raised cattle roll out of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, where men are sentenced to hard labor and forced to work, for pennies an hour or sometimes nothing at all. After rumbling down a country road to an auction house, the cows are bought by a local rancher and then followed by The Associated Press another 600 miles to a Texas slaughterhouse that feeds into the supply chains of giants like McDonald’s, Walmart and Cargill.

Sequestering Carbon In Soils Isn’t Enough To Offset Livestock Emissions

A new study highlights the risk of depending on soil carbon sequestration as a way to offset the emissions produced from raising livestock. The study found that offsetting the methane and nitrous oxide emissions from the global livestock industry would require 135 gigatonnes (135 billion metric tons) of carbon stocks. According to the authors, that amount is nearly double the carbon stored in managed grasslands globally. Some regions would require an increase in carbon sequestration in the soil of up to 2,000% to match livestock emissions. The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

At COP28, Family Farmers Who Feed The World Went Unheard

In the run-up to this year’s COP28 summit in Dubai, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres railed against the scourge of global hunger and climate devastation fuelled by farming. “Global food systems are broken, and billions of people are paying the price,” he said – and he was right. Our food system is responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet fails to feed the world, with a tenth of humanity experiencing hunger. For years, this issue has been sidelined at climate summits, but at COP28 it was catapulted to centre stage, with an entire day of the agenda dedicated to food and agriculture.

Big Meat And Dairy Delegates Triple At COP28

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Lobbyists from industrial agriculture companies and trade groups have turned out in record numbers at COP28, which this year has a strong focus on tackling emissions from the food sector. Attendees are present from some of the world’s largest agribusiness firms – such as meatpacker JBS, fertiliser giant Nutrien, food giant Nestlé and pesticide firm Bayer – and powerful industry trade groups.  Meat and dairy interests are especially well represented with 120 delegates in Dubai, triple the number that attended COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Overall the analysis of the delegates list by DeSmog shows that the total number of people representing the interests of agribusiness has more than doubled since 2022 to reach 340.

Big Meat Unveils Battle Plans For COP28

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.

Mapped: Deep Ties Between Big Ag And Europe’s Right-Wing Politicians

Striding out on alpine hikes, mingling at rooftop soirées and lending office space free of charge – these are just some of the ways Big Ag has sought to win over influential EU lawmakers on critical green reforms in recent years. These relationship-building activities have helped to forge a powerful alliance in Brussels between select politicians from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and those with a commercial interest in slowing moves to more nature-friendly farming: pesticide manufacturers and farming unions linked to industry. A major investigation published earlier this month by DeSmog and Politico revealed the high volume of meetings held by six key EPP parliamentarians.

Revealed: Meetings Blitz Between Big Ag And Anti-Green Lawmakers

Agriculture lobby groups have been in constant contact with a small group of influential European politicians, holding an average of over two meetings a week while the bloc negotiated flagship reforms to protect nature and climate, DeSmog can reveal. Between January 2020 and July 2023, over 400 meetings took place between industry and key members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who have been at the forefront of efforts to stall reforms since the Farm to Fork strategy launched in 2020. DeSmog documented meetings held by six MEPs from the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the largest group in parliament.

Call For The International Day Of Action For Peoples’ Food Sovereignty

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.

A Guide To Six Greenwashing Terms Big Ag Is Bringing To COP28

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. 
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