Everyone wants to eat healthy food for a healthy body.But how can we create healthy food systems for a healthy planet?
Currently, our industrial food systems are creating havoc with our environment. Runaway climate change, increased levels of corporate control, high levels of food waste, forest clearing, soil erosion, water scarcity and pollution are just a few of the byproducts of our current systems. The connection between deforestation-related emissions and agricultural expansion is well documented. According to the Climate Land Use Alliance, commercial agriculture causes 71% of tropical deforestation. The continued industrialization of four commodities in particular––palm oil, pulp & paper, soy, and beef––pose serious risks to our global forests and climate.
We are also facing the extinction of key species, the disappearance of crop diversity, and increased food insecurity and racial inequity as a result of the way we produce the majority of food today.
Today, our industrial agriculture system is driving roughly one third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These greenhouse gasses are largely from converting tropical forests to feed crops and other livestock uses. Methane emissions from this industrial farming are another destructive byproduct. The livestock sector is directly responsible for more than 14% of all global GHG emissions. It is the single largest source of food-sector emissions. In fact, approximately 30% of all land and 75% of agricultural land on the planet is devoted to the production of livestock or animal feed according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
So how can we transform the global food system?
Rainforest Action Network is exploring the intersection of agribusiness and climate change to identify where leverage exists to create large-scale systemic change. As a corporate campaigning organization, we are interested in the industrial meat sector since some of the biggest corporations in the world are investing in animal agriculture. It’s one of the most powerful, profitable sectors on the globe, controlled by five key industries that are responsible for some of the most destructive environmental impacts of our time––pharmaceutical, agrochemicals, animal feed, petroleum and meat.
RAN’s history is built on such work. In 1985, RAN launched a successful campaign to pressure Burger King to cancel $35 million worth of Central American beef contracts that were driving conversion of rainforests to grazing land.
So take action with RAN to demand that the biggest and most egregious global meat producers, starting with Tyson Foods, adopt comprehensive meat sector and palm oil policies that include compiling and making public data on the rainforest conversion, global greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, and water impacts of its meat and feed businesses.
 Livestock’s Long Shadow Executive Summary, page xxi; http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/News/2006/1000448/index.html
Further Reading on Responsible Food Systems