10 am in front of the main office of the German Association Animal Food (DVT) (at Beueler Bahnhofsplatz Nr. 18, Bonn-Beuel)
Governmental officials from almost all countries of the world come together in Bonn to discuss how to mitigate climate change. At the same time, concrete actors are located in close vicinity, who make profits at the cost of the climate and who campaign a lot, so that it stays like this.
With a rally in front of the main office of the DVT, we want to tag this actor and confront him with our protest. Afterwards, we want to draw attention to the fatal consequences of animal feed cultivation with a demonstration, and together walk to the event “The Struggle for Migrants’ Rights in a Context of Climate Crisis” of the People‘s Climate Summits at the site “Wissenschaftszentrum”.
The production of animal feed and its feeding in animal production contributes substantially to climate change.
The “German Association Animal Food” (“Deutscher Verband Tiernahrung e.V.”, short DVT) is the largest lobby of the animal feed sector in Germany, representing 280 member companies that constitute around 80 % of the German animal feed market. Among its members are major companies such as several subsidiaries of Agravis, BASF, Habema and MEGA Animal Food (a subsidiary of the PHW-Group with its brand Wiesenhof), and international companies like Cargill (US), ForFarmers (NL) and Provimi (originally NL, by now part of Cargill).
On their website, they describe their function as follows:
“We consult and support our members in professional issues. As a mediator between the animal feed industry on the one hand and on the other hand the agriculture and food industry, politics, media and other industries, administration and sciences as well as the public, the DVT is the central interface with regards to animal feed.”
By representing the interests of a business sector in which a lot of money is made by destroying the nature and the climate, of course they do not care whether climate change is actually stopped.
Under the heading “Feed questions”, they avoid questions regarding climate protection more or less smart. They merely promise very vague improvements: a more efficient composition of the feed, so that one needs “less food for a greater outcome”; research into food that reduces methane emission; and the reduction of energy use regarding the animal feed production. Other deficiencies such as poor working conditions and the eviction of peasants, deforestation, extinction of species and over-fishing of the seas are not even mentioned.
The DVT is an important player for securing the persistence and expansion of the animal feed industry and for politically enforcing the therefore required conditions. Effective climate protection plans are in conflict with their interests.
Animal feed and animal production
Global agriculture accounts to one fifth up to one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, agriculture has diverse consequences on further planetary boundaries such as for instance the land usage, the biodiversity and the nitrogen cycle. These impacts also lead to an intensification of climate change and make it harder to mitigate its consequences.
Animal production makes a large contribution to these consequences of agriculture – and especially the production of animal feed plays a central role. In comparison, animal production only contributes little to world food and benefits mainly the wealthy world population. The production is paid with the desertification of huge areas, the ever ongoing emergence of multiresistant germs, the extreme exploitative working conditions even in the industrialized north and, not least, the exploitation of non-human animals: countless billion terrestrial animals and trillions of aquatic animal fall victim to animal production every year.
Animal feed as part of the problem
Animal feed has a substantial share in these problems. In the course of industrialization, pasture feeding was increasingly replaced with intensive livestock farming. A lot of large farms emerged, concentrating a large amount of animals on a small space. In general, these farms do not have sufficient agricultural production land for the production of the required animal feed. That’s why it’s also called “landless animal production”.
Waste due to feeding
For the production of animal feed, resources such as land and water are used that could be used directly for the production of plant-based food instead of utilizing them in animal production. In the light of that, animal production constitutes a wasteful food production. For the production of one calorie of food from animal origin, depending on the animal species and the husbandry conditions, about 1.5 up to 21 calories of plant-based food are required. As a consequence, the land- and resource-expenditure can be reduced significantly through the direct production of plant-based foods. Additionally, almost half of the greenhouse gas emissions of animal production originate in the production of animal feed. This share can be reduced significantly by adapting a plant-based food production, while the direct emissions of animal farming could be cancelled.
Also regarding the water consumption, animal feed depicts a stark waste. For the production of one kilogram of beef, on average 16,500 litres of water are used, especially referable to animal feed. For one kilogram of pork or cheese, 5,000 litres of water are consumed. In contrast to this, roughly 2,500 litres of water account for the production of one kilogram of soy beans, and 130 litres with regards to potatoes.
Animal feed imports
In the course of globalization, animal feeds are being transported on ever larger distances and in ever greater quantities. A large share of the protein-rich animal feed fed in Europe originate from Latin America. There, a variety of problems are connected with the production. For the steady expansion of the cultivation area, large areas of rain forest are being cleared – with long-term negative consequences for the climate, the biodiversity and the landscape. At the same time, animal feed is often grown in monocultures and with the aid of sometimes massive amounts of genetically manipulated seeds and pesticides. Many former relatively sustainable acting peasants are being deprived of their basis of existence by the aggressive expansion of producers, and the workers in the animal feed production often suffer from precarious working conditions.
In addition, where the imported animal feed is being fed, often a surplus of nutritious slurry arises, which leads to oversupply of nutrients (eutrophication) in several areas. As a consequence, this leads to a negative impacts on the biodiversity, the capacity of water bodies to absorb carbon dioxide, and the drinking water supply for humans.
To counter the bad publicity the animal feed industry came of with some labels like the “GMP+”, the “Round table on Responsible Soy” and the “Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef”. All those initiatives are in the best case leading to some marginal improvement but are mainly meant to greenwash inherent harmful activities and to secure the business model of the industry.
Fishmeal, meaning dried and ground parts of fish, depict another form of animal feed, which is predominantly used as addition in aquaculture as well as in pig and poultry feed. Transfiguring, it is often alleged from the producing corporates that fishmeal is merely produced from by-catch. But especially in the last decades, the fishmeal production emerged as a new branch of deep-sea fishery, such that specific species of fish are solely caught for the production of fishmeal. As such, the production of fishmeal is a central cause for the extinction of species of fish and the overfishing of some maritime locations.
Similar to the import of soy, main supplier of fish meal are the Latin American countries. The processing of fishmeal has catastrophic consequences on site, both for the people and the environment. Regularly, it becomes publicly known that chemically polluted waste materials from fishmeal plants are being carried directly into the sea, without any filtering. Additionally, local residents suffer from skin and respiratory diseases due to the incineration of fishmeal dust.
Aseed, Animal Climate Action and Friends