SOS-UK have teamed up with the Charity Feedback to call on universities to divest from industrial meat and dairy.
This industry – what we call ‘Big Livestock’ – is the rearing of animals on an industrial scale. You have probably heard of factory farms before and how bad they are for animal welfare, but the destruction caused by the Big Livestock industry goes much further than this. A recent report from the UN showed that food systems account for over one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. The food on our plate has a massive impact on climate change. If the Big Livestock industry continues with its business-as-usual, within just 10 years this sector will account for almost half of the world’s emissions budget for 1.5c. (1) The food system requires precious resources, including vast amounts of land and water.
Often the demand for land leads to the clearing of forests for conversion to farmland for feed and pasture. By 2030 these companies would need almost 2.8 million square kilometres of land to feed the industrial livestock system. To put this into perspective, the total land area of Argentina is 2.7 million square kilometres, which makes Big Livestock completely unsustainable.
Big Livestock, like big oil, is propped up by vast flows of money. Banks, pensions, and even University endowments are bankrolling these companies, reaping profits while causing havoc to the environment. Our campaign is calling on all Universities in the UK to stop funding industrial meat and dairy. University endowments need to divest from Big Livestock, as they have done with fossil fuel industries, with over half of all Universities in the UK having divested to date.
Universities are beacons of knowledge and influence our present and future through its academic teaching and research. Universities divesting from Big Livestock would not only help stop the flow of cash to these companies, but also show that science and teaching does not support an industry that is heavily linked to climate change and deforestation.
Big Livestock corporations are often shrouded in mystery; they are massive corporations hidden behind a veil of subsidiaries .Most notable are JBS, Cargill, Tyson, Dairy Farmers of America, and Fonterra-together they emit more greenhouse gases than Exxon Mobil. (2).In addition, these companies control a huge market share of the meat industry, with up to 70% of chicken in UK processed and supplied by only four producers: Moy Park (JBS), Cargill & Faccenda (Avara), and 2 Sisters. (3).
It is unsustainable and unethical to give so much power to the hands of a small group of massive corporations that no small farmer can compete with.
This model of industrial meat and dairy is heavily dependent on land and large numbers of cattle which makes the entire industrial meat and dairy industry unviable to a green and equitable society.
What can you do?
The Big Livestock campaign will shine a light on the devastating atrocities committed by industrial meat and dairy companies: from land grabs and deforestation to the expulsion of indigenous people from the amazon. (4).(5).
Together, we can take action against Big Livestock and its impact on our planet by writing to Vice-Chancellors across the country to divest from industrial meat and dairy.
To find out more about Big Livestock and its impact on our planet, visit the Feedback website.
Shabir Noorzai, an Eco-Talent intern at Feedback and SOS-UK