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Killing Fields: the battle to feed factory farms

News Section Icon Published 14/10/2009

A new investigation by the Ecologist and a coalition of pressure groups exposes the dark side of soy production for animal feed: deforestation, loss of biodiversity, depletion of natural resources and destruction of local communities.

The film, Killing Fields: the battle to feed factory farms - produced by Friends of the Earth, Food and Water Watch and with European coordination by Via Campesina - documents the experiences of people in Paraguay and Brazil, where soy farming causes social conflicts and environmental destruction. The investigation reveals how intensive animal farming across the EU, including the UK, is fuelling these problems.

Watch the film here or at YouTube:

"We indigenous people used to live from the forests, [from] animals, fruits... now we cannot do that any more because we are surrounded by ranches," Jose Dolores Berraro, from the Yrbucua community, says. "It's an invasion because instead of reforesting they come to deplete natural resources and these forests."

Globally, over 90% soya and 40% cereals are grown for animal feed, not human consumption. To produce 1kg of edible boneless beef, 20kg animal feed is required. Meanwhile, more than a billion people in the world are 'chronically hungry', as estimated by the United Nations' World Food Programme.

For global agriculture to be sustainable it needs to

  • provide a reasonable living for those working in agriculture and contribute to the viability of rural communities
  • reduce as far as possible its negative impact on the environment and particularly the climate
  • protect biodiversity in all its aspects
  • protect the welfare of farm and working animals
  • produce the kind of food which will contribute to healthy and affordable diets for both humans and farm animals

At Compassion in World Farming we believe that we can feed ourselves and the world far more equitably if we reduce our meat and dairy in-take. A low-meat diet would mean fewer GHG emissions from livestock, more water and energy availability - and therefore fewer conflicts- and better welfare for those animals that provide us with food.

Compassion in World Farming lobbies governments and international bodies for policies to promote a reduction in meat consumption. Our 'Beyond Factory Farming' campaign is now bringing one of the most respected international experts on food, farming and environmental policy, Lester Brown, to the UK to give the 2009 Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture on 29 October 2009.

Lester Brown will present his new book, the latest update of a groundbreaking blueprint for avoiding catastrophic climate change, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. A panel with Dr Jimmy Smith, Team Leader - Livestock at the World Bank, Andrea Gavinelli, Head of the Animal Welfare unit established by the European Commission's DG Sanco and Joyce D'Silva, Ambassador for Compassion in World Farming will discuss how to feed the world and protect the environment.

For more about Compassion's view on animal agriculture, climate change and sustainability, see: