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.[1] 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.[2] 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).[3]

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.

[1] http://www.climateandlandusealliance.org/uploads/PDFs/Global_Commodities_Graphic_1.pdf

[2] http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3437e/i3437e.pdf

[3] Livestock’s Long Shadow Executive Summary, page xxi; http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/News/2006/1000448/index.html


Rainforests are a global resource for all life on Earth. But their future — and ours — is in danger. Massive corporations are destroying tropical forests at an unprecedented rate, making huge profits off of deforestation and the human rights violations that too often go hand in hand with it. Lands are stolen from local and Indigenous communities and forests are destroyed for cheap commodities like palm oil, soy, cocoa, pulp and paper, timber, and beef — all for a quick profit.

While many of the biggest brands have made commitments pledging to stop destroying rainforests across their supply chains, these same companies have failed to meet their own timelines or deliver on their promises. That’s why we’re committed to holding these companies accountable.

You have the power to influence these brands and stop deforestation and human rights abuses. You’ve helped us move some of the biggest market players in the world to publicly commit to no deforestation policies. Now it’s time to hold these corporations responsible for implementing their own promises.

Take Action

Further Reading on Responsible Food Systems

How can we foster a Responsible Food System?

There’s simply not enough room to meet current, let alone projected, consumption levels with “sustainable” meat. http://bit.ly/1TzEHzk

How does the food system impact our climate?

How does the food system impact our climate? http://bit.ly/1Qu4Fok

How does meat production and consumption impact biodiversity? 

There may be no other single human activity that has a bigger impact on the planet than the raising of livestock, reports Time Magazine http://bit.ly/21N9IFK

How does food production impact global water resources? 

We can’t fix big problems like the California drought or climate change without tackling factory farms. http://bit.ly/1lsmh8Y

How does food waste impact the climate?

While hundreds of millions of households around the globe struggle to meet basic dietary needs, a huge portion of the food produced worldwide ends up in the garbage. Food waste has become a serious environmental and economic issue. http://bit.ly/1OgF0ef

How does a lack of global food security and food sovereignty affect people and planet?

There could be more than enough food to go around. It’s within our power to demand a responsible food system that fosters a world where producers and consumers, not corporations, control our food system. http://bit.ly/1TZW8K9

Can meat consumption reduction campaigns solve the climate crisis?

If left unchecked, worldwide meat consumption and production could lead to species loss, climate risks, poverty, and social breakdown as large meat-producing companies continue to displace small-scale farmers. http://bit.ly/1Naag0O

Racial and gender equity in our food system

Every day, across the US, people struggle to stay on their family farms, put healthy food on the table, and earn a living wage. http://bit.ly/1RCVi6A

What role do commodity feed crops play in industrial meat production?

With the rapid rise of industrial animal production, an increasing number of livestock once raised traditionally on pastures are now raised in feedlots http://bit.ly/1lMXtrX

From The Understory Archives

Tyson Foods brings Conflict Palm Oil and factory farmed meat to the table: Ahead of the US Thanksgiving holiday, a look at the true cost of cheap, industrial food