photo: Amazon fire – Brazil
Excerpted from our free EcoFood Guide.
The livestock sector is annihilating forest regions. Around the world, forests are cleared through fires and cutting to make pasture to graze cattle and to grow monocultures of GMO feed crops for factory farmed animals. As reported by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, “Cattle ranching is the largest driver of deforestation in every Amazon country, accounting for 80% of current deforestation rates.”
Setting fires to clear forests is a common and ongoing practice globally for the livestock industry. The more than 85,000 fires in the Amazon rainforest that shocked and stunned the world in 2019 were not an accident.
In addition to the tens of thousands of fires that are intentionally set every year, global warming creates conditions for fires that are much more intense, frequent, and devastating. This has played out most recently in California, Indonesia, and Australia (which experienced its hottest and driest year on record in 2019).
Soy is the second largest driver of deforestation after beef.
While soy is often associated with plant-based diets, “only about 6% of soybeans grown worldwide are turned directly into food products for human consumption.” And much of that is organic, mostly grown in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Most of the world’s soy crop (about 75% by weight) is produced for livestock feed using pesticide-laden, GMO monocultures in Central and South America. This is not only bad for the Earth, but also bad for our health as pesticides (similar to the hormones and antibiotics in conventional livestock feed) concentrate in animal’s flesh and their products (meat, dairy and eggs).
In the United States, the poultry industry (including eggs) consumes more than half of all soymeal fed to livestock; followed by pigs, cattle, and even fish. Indeed, more than half of global salmon producers use soy sourced from Brazilian rainforest.
- Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies: Global Forest Atlas page. Last accessed on June 1, 2020. https://globalforestatlas.yale.edu/amazon/land-use/cattle-ranching.
- Union of Concerned Scientists: Soybeans page. Published October 9, 2015. Last accessed on June 1, 2020. https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/soybeans.
- Food and Climate Research Network. Building Block: “Soy: food, feed, and land use change” (PDF). Last access June 1, 2020. https://foodsource.org.uk/building-blocks/soy-food-feed-and-land-use-change.
- Soybean Meal Info Center: “Fact Sheet: Soybean Use: Poultry.” Last accessed June 1, 2020. Soymeal.org: https://www.soymeal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/soybean_use_poultry.pdf
- Rainforest Foundation Norway. “The murky waters of soy fed salmon.” October 31, 2018: Last access June 1, 2020. https://www.regnskog.no/en/news/the-murky-waters-of-soy-fed-salmon
Last updated June 1, 2020