Beef – An Evironmental Hazard

Article published yesterday by me and Jacob Johnson in Sweden´s biggest newspaper, Aftonbladet.
It can also be downloaded as word:

Beef – An Evironmental Hazard that Should Cost a Lot More
Aftonbladet, 2007-03-05

Eating meat costs the environment too much and your wallet too little. Today’s meat consumption leads to climate change, the destruction of rainforest and overexploitaion of the world’s water supply. To slow down rapidly increasing meat consumption, we demand that the government institute an environmental tax on grains used as animal fodder.

According to a U.N. report, the livestock industry is one of the world’s biggest environmental culprits. It accounts for a whopping 18% of greenhouse gases.

In South American countries rainforests are cut down to make room for the planting of animal fodder crops which are subsequently exported to the EU for meat production. Thirty percent of the earth’s land surface is devoted to production related to raising livestock . It is thereby one of the greatest threats to our evermore depleted biological diversity.

At the same time as a billion human beings have no access to clean water, this vital life source is overexploited by the meat industry. The production of a kilo of feed grains requires 400-3,000 liters of water. A kilo of beef requires 15,000 liters or more.

We in the West consume several times as much grain as poor countries.  The main reason is that the majority of our grain is used as fodder for animals.

And this even as millions of people suffer from hunger.

We are adamantly opposed to allowing the large scale raising of livestock to continue taking essential resources from people and destroyinng our environment. It would be a disaster if, as the U.N. predicts, meat and milk production were to double by the year 2050.

We therefor demand that the government initiates a program for decreasing meat consumption. An important measure in such a program would be the institution of an environmental tax on grain used as animal fodder. In this way grain for human consumption would be cheaper and meat more expensive. Another possibility would be an environmental subsidy for the production of grain for human consumption.

The government must also pressure the EU to decrease its farm subsidies, because a large part goes to the production of fodder and to transport of animals.

It is becoming more and more evident that it is not only the transport sector and energy use that need to be changed. We also need to begin eating differently. And for that to happen, beef has to cost more and green alternatives less.
Jens Holm, Member of the European Parliament (Left Party – GUE/NGL)
Jacob Johnson, Member of the Swedish Parliament’s
Environment and Agriculture Committee (Left Party)