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Climate-Friendly Food and Farming: Why We Need Labels on Factory-Farmed Food

January 17, 2013
Common Dreams
by Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association

A growing number of organic consumers, natural health advocates and climate hawks are taking a more comprehensive look at the fundamental causes of global warming. And it's led them to this sobering conclusion: Our modern energy-, Ronnie Cumminschemical- and GMO-intensive industrial food and farming systems are the major cause of man-made global warming.

How did they reach this conclusion? First, by taking a more inclusive look at the scientific data on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions - not just carbon dioxide (CO2), but also methane and nitrous oxide. Next, by doing a full accounting of the fossil fuel consumption and emissions of the entire industrial food and farming cycle, including inputs, equipment, production, processing, distribution, heating, cooling and waste. And finally, by factoring in the indirect impacts of contemporary agriculture, which include deforestation and wetlands destruction.

When you add it all up, the picture is clear: Contemporary agriculture is burning up our planet. And factory farms or, in industry lingo, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), play a key role in this impending disaster.

The science behind global warming is complex. Without question, coal plants, tar sands and natural gas fracking have contributed heavily to greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, the major cause of global warming. We must unite to shut down these industries. Similarly, consumer overconsumption of fossil fuels represents another big piece of the climate-crisis equation. We absolutely must rethink, retrofit and/or redesign our gas-guzzling cars and our energy-inefficient buildings, if we want to reduce fossil fuel use by 90 percent over the next few decades.

But we also must address the environmental impact of factory farming...

 

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