Time to fix the food chain and prevent further rainforest destruction

Surprisingly the meat and dairy industry produces around 18 per cent of the world's climate-changing gases; cows, pigs and chickens in our factory farms are pumped full of high-protein feed to make them grow quickly and produce large yields.

Our guest writer is Robert Flello, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent South

Private Members Bills are a unique opportunity for MPs to make sure important issues get the debate they deserve in the House of Commons. After being drawn second in the Private Members Bill ballot, I thought long and hard about the bill I wanted to sponsor.

Like many people, I have been concerned about global warming for years. I was surprised to find out that it is not just planes, cars and factories that pump polluting emissions into the air – surprisingly the meat and dairy industry produces around 18 per cent of the world’s climate-changing gases.

And when I learned from Friends of the Earth that a hidden chain links animals in British factory farms to rainforest destruction in South America, I decided my bill should do something about it. Cows, pigs and chickens in our factory farms are pumped full of high-protein feed to make them grow quickly and produce large yields.

Much of this protein comes in the form of genetically modified soy, mostly shipped in from South America, where forests are felled and wildlife-rich grasslands destroyed to make way for vast soy plantations.

Communities who have lived on the land for generations are forced out. And the environmental impacts are devastating. So far 90 per cent of the South American Atlantic Forest – home to the black-faced lion tamarin monkey and the white-collared kite – has been destroyed, much of it for soy farming to produce animal feed.

This far-away problem also affects the UK, as destroying rainforest increases the amount of climate-changing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, with terrible risks for us all. Climate change will lead to floods, heat waves, sea level rises, species dying out and new pests moving in – all of which will seriously affect the world’s ability to feed itself.

If current trends continue, soy farming and cattle ranching alone will destroy 40 per cent of the Amazon Rainforest by 2050. But soy plantations in South America are dependent on, and driven by, factory farming in the UK and Europe – if we demand less soy it will help to protect rainforests and wildlife, and prevent dangerous climate change.

My Bill aims to reduce British meat and dairy factory farms’ dependence on South American animal feed, by changing the way we produce meat so it doesn’t have such a damaging impact. I’m advocating Government support for fair and planet-friendly farming, instead of spending more than £700 million of taxpayers’ money each year to prop up intensive factory farms.

Importantly, vital funding will also make life better for UK farmers by supporting feed production and pasture-based farming and protecting them from yo-yoing animal feed costs.

I enjoy a Sunday roast as much as anyone, and the Flello Bill is not about imposing vegetarianism on Britain. It’s a chance to take responsibility for the food we all enjoy and do our bit to stop global warming. That is why I am working with Friends of the Earth and other MPs across the House to lead the drive for planet-friendly farming that doesn’t destroy wildlife, rainforests and our climate.

• Visit www.fixthefoodchain.com to support the bill.

23 Responses to “Time to fix the food chain and prevent further rainforest destruction”

  1. d

    RT @leftfootfwd: Time to fix the food chain and prevent further rainforest destruction: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  2. LockPickerNet

    Time to fix the food chain and prevent further rainforest destruction: //bit.ly/cX1kOS via @leftfootfwd

  3. Mary Horesh

    RT @LockPickerNet: Time to fix the food chain and prevent further rainforest destruction: //bit.ly/cX1kOS via @leftfootfwd

  4. Friends of the Earth

    Rob Flello MP – why I'm introducing new law for planet-friendly farming: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  5. Birmingham FOE

    Our work is paying off! RT @wwwfoecouk: Rob Flello MP – why I'm introducing new law for planet-friendly farming: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  6. Neil Verlander

    RT @leftfootfwd: Time to fix the food chain and prevent further rainforest destruction: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  7. manishta sunnia

    RT @wwwfoecouk: Rob Flello MP – why I'm introducing new law for planet-friendly farming: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  8. JohnBaldy

    RT @wwwfoecouk: Rob Flello MP – why I'm introducing new law for planet-friendly farming: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  9. Chris Williams

    RT @wwwfoecouk: Rob Flello MP – why I'm introducing new law for planet-friendly farming: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  10. Tigger

    Good idea.

    HOWEVER… *Non*-GM soy comes overwhelmingly from Brazil, as US soy production cannot be guaranteed to be non-GM.

    Also an immense pity, if you’re really bothered about the planet etc, that you don’t also include PALM OIL, which is doing the exact same damage, if not worse, in S E Asia, plus threatening orang-utans, gibbons, etc with extinction.

    Here the issues include the lack of correct food labelling of palm (and soy) oil/fat – shown as “vegetable oil” “vegetable fat”, “vegetable suet” and so-on, plus the palm oil fuelled “biofuels” power stations already being built or going through planning in the UK. (Which I believe recieve a government subsidy!)

    This isn’t just about livestock farming – it’s about what all of us eat – even vegetarians and vegans, given the abysmal requirements for auditing the sources of soy and palm oil used in so many foods – and cosmetics and cleaning products (even so-called “organic” products) and about how energy is generated.

    So this is a real missed opportunity on your part.

    Any chance of anyone adding to your bill with suitable ammendments?

  11. Mary Horesh

    RT @wwwfoecouk: Rob Flello MP – why I'm introducing new law for planet-friendly farming: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  12. Therese

    Unfortunately doesn't cover #palmoil or food labelling. :< RT @wwwfoecouk RobFlelloMP – law for planet-friendly farming //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  13. winston k moss

    RT @leftfootfwd: Time to fix the food chain and prevent further rainforest destruction: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  14. Anon E Mouse

    Robert Flello – Good for you fella. I don’t go along with the global warming rubbish but protecting wildlife is an absolute must.

    Beware palm oil plantations as well – the orangs are being sacrificed to let pious stuck up metropolitan elites drive their biofuel cars in major capitals around the world.

    Finally a word of caution though: remember the producers of the feed do have to earn a living as well.

    Great article and good luck with your private members bill – remember Anne Widdacombe and Tony Banks (why can’t more Labour MP’s be like him) and their private members bill got fox hunting banned. It can work…

  15. Miss Prankster Pixie

    RT @wwwfoecouk: Rob Flello MP – why I'm introducing new law for planet-friendly farming: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  16. Crackers the Parrot

    Time to fix the food chain and prevent further rainforest … //bit.ly/9bAgIA

  17. John

    An interesting article. I own / run a joinery company in the Sw uk. Always aware when purchasing our timber it comes from a sustainable forest. There is know excuse these days. It is available at no extra cost. We now have even invested in a machine that terns all our waste into briquettes for a wood burning fuel. Now have no waste living our yard. Maybe we should all do our little bit to help our planet

  18. Nick Saltmarsh

    RT @leftfootfwd: Time to fix the food chain and prevent further rainforest destruction: //bit.ly/cX1kOS

  19. Kenneth

    I am glad people also point out the importance of biofuels as a driver for deforestation. Biodiesel from both palm oil and soy oil contributes to deforestation in SE Asia and in S America.

    However the political drivers behind this are misguided unsustainable biofuel targets. Friends of the Earth is running a campaign against these targets that complements our work on soy feeds for livestock.

    see more at //www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/biodiversity/case_studies/biofuels_nowhere_7422.html

  20. Anon E Mouse

    Kenneth – Good link. I agree whole heartedly with the point on biofuels.

    Another one though is how much of the earth’s resources are used to produce a Toyota Prius and the way these eco-zombies shuffle along, open mouthed, without realising the damage they are doing to the planet by buying one – they see an “eco” symbol and almost turn their brains off.

    This campaign takes a set issue and describes how to resolve it.

    Friends of the Earth should consider informing people of how bad for the planet the Prius is and hopefully stop selfish and ill informed people from buying them…

  21. Martyn Williams

    I’ll be working with Rob on this Bill – he really has provided a fantastic opportunity to tackle an issue that has been largely ignored.

    The palm oil and food labelling points are both good ones. The good news is the Bill is wide enough to have an impact on both.

    Food labelling and consumer information is one of the things we would want the Government to consider very carefully in an strategy to reduce our reliance on soy.

    Also the Bill covers ALL the impacts of livestock farming – so as far as that includes palm oil, it will also be covered. It is just that soy is a bigger driver of deforestation in this particular sector, which is why we usually talk about it most.

    We can’t pretend this Bill is going to stop palm oil being used in bio-fuels, plastics, cosmetics etc etc, but sadly the Bill has to have some limits.

    Main thing now is to get enough people and MPs behind the Bill to give it a good chance of getting passed. Rob Flello has also tabled EDM 367 in support of the Bill – please ask your MP to sign it.

  22. Will the "greenest government ever" get the rainforest off our plates? | Left Foot Forward

    […] Rob Flello’s Sustainable Livestock Bill would change this – it would require Ministers to factor the livestock’s sustainability into new policies. The Bill therefore poses an interesting test. In part this is for David Cameron – the man who built his leadership campaign around the environment and promised to lead the “greenest Government ever” within days of coming to power. […]

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