World Animal Forum: Five Items Still on the "Fix" List

We have sacrificed enormously to satisfy a huge agro-lobby that works directly against our small local producers and the health and welfare of animals. When will we wake up?

I recently attended the latest meeting of the World Animal Forum in Banna, Italy.  The Forum (WAF for short) is an informal yearly gathering of the Chief Executives of a number of larger, international animal welfare organizations.

Under the gracious hospitality afforded by Federico Spinola at his lovely estate, we explore a new theme each year.  This year’s theme was animal welfare in agriculture; next year’s is wildlife.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare’s mandate does not include agriculture, that said, the experience served as an important set of reminders for me personally.  Just to share a few points that struck me as still needing our collective immediate attention:

1.  The scale of the use of animals is staggering; Literally in the billions worldwide.  The welfare of animals, especially in intensive husbandry, is highly compromised.  The level of needless cruelty perpetrated by humanity is inexcusable.

2.  As other organizations have well documented, the inefficiency of production of protein through beef is huge, as is the massive contribution of methane as a major factor in global warming.  With the increasing demand for meat in China and other newly developing countries, we are creating a totally unsustainable pathway around the world AND increasing the production of greenhouse gases.

3. This was a real shocker, about 30% of all food produced is wasted – it is an amount that surpasses the total agricultural production of sub-Saharan Africa and enough to feed three billion people!  Of the seven billion humans that currently exist, one billion are underfed and one billion are obese.

4.  The U.S. lags far, far behind Europe in progressive agriculture practice, especially concerning animal welfare.  The European Council’s Common Agriculture Policy has saved family farming which is much more animal-friendly than the agri-business-based intensive farming that now dominates the United States.

5. Perhaps worst of all, U.S. meat is loaded with hormones, to the extent that no American meat is allowed in the European Union.

We have sacrificed enormously to satisfy a huge agro-lobby that works directly against our small local producers and the health and welfare of animals.  When will we wake up?

For anyone who may not have been aware of some of these facts, here is a recommended summer reading list:

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

The Food, Inc. Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It

Gaining Ground: In Pursuit of Ecological Sustainability

-- FO

 

 

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