One industry links two of the greatest crises humanity faces: climate breakdown and new pandemics. That industry is industrial animal agriculture, responsible for runaway deforestation, 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, the degradation of natural environments, and animal cruelty. This damage also makes new viruses like COVID-19 more likely to emerge.
Yet major development banks, such as the World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, who should be helping humanity create a safer, more sustainable world, are lending billions to the worst forms of animal agriculture. And they are ignoring our message to stop.
Development banks are funded through our taxes, in the form of contributions from governments worldwide.
Will you join us in calling for them to immediately stop financing industrial animal agriculture?
We cannot defund the livestock sector alone. We need your help.
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In industrial livestock operations, animals are kept in overcrowded and stressful conditions, which creates environments that are favorable to the emergence and/or spread of zoonotic disease. A recent UNEP report recognizes that these operations are major drivers of zoonotic disease emergence.
Deforestation and biodiversity loss
The livestock sector is by far the largest driver of deforestation in South America, where natural ecosystems are being destroyed at a rapid pace to be turned into pastures for an ever-expanding cattle herd, or transformed into large crop fields to feed farmed animals. Food systems and especially large-scale meat and feed production are also major drivers of biodiversity loss and underlie the increased fragility of numerous ecosystems worldwide.
The livestock sector is responsible for 14.5% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions globally. If nothing changes, experts project it will account for almost half of the world’s allowable budget for greenhouse gas emissions, for a 1,5°C temperature increase scenario, by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
Social equity and farming livelihood
Small-scale farmers, including indigenous and traditional communities, suffer from competition with the industrial livestock sector over land. They are often pushed aside by the sector, which can result in serious land conflicts. Small-scale farmers also face fierce competition from the industrial livestock sector, which can produce at cheaper prices because it does not pay for the costs of its social and environmental impact.
The industrial livestock sector routinely uses large amounts of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent diseases that inevitably occur when animals are kept in poor conditions. In some countries, up to 80% of the total consumption of medically important antibiotics happens in the livestock sector. This high exposure to antibiotics leads to antibiotic resistance, which undermines the efficacy of antibiotics in human medicine.
In the industrial livestock sector, most animals are kept in very small cages or overcrowded spaces for their entire lives. They are exposed to high levels of stress and can not execute their most basic natural behaviors. Many will stand on slatted floors their whole lives, suffer painful mutilations, face excruciating boredom, and never see the sun.
The Divest Factory Farming Campaign is a coalition of development, environmental and animal protection groups that works in partnership with locally affected communities and organizations to shift development finance away from industrial livestock production. Campaign steering committee members include the Bank Information Center, Friends of the Earth US, Feedback Global, The Global Forest Coalition, Sinergia Animal, and World Animal Protection.