For the first time, the USDA has asked Americans to think about the environmental impact of the food we eat. Unsurprisingly, the cattle industry doesn’t like it one bit.
A diet heavy in red meat is unsustainable — and raising cows produces five times more greenhouse gasses than other animals raised for meat. This doesn’t mean that we should never have a steak again. But eating red meat every single day, like the cattle lobby wants us to, just isn’t a responsible choice. That, together with health considerations, is why the USDA is asking us to reduce our beef consumption.
Industry insiders are lobbying hard to change the USDA’s advice. But we can put a stop to corporate influence by submitting comments to the USDA and showing that there’s widespread support for its new dietary guidelines.
Cows use 28 times more land and 11 times more water than other animals to produce the same amount of meat. Livestock production crowds out biodiversity, pollutes our water and hastens species extinction — and runoff from cattle lots can contaminate crops and destroy aquatic ecosystems. The cattle industry is also the country’s biggest user of antibiotics. And how many e. coli outbreaks do we need to show us the problems with centralized stockyards?
The cattle lobby is powerful, and it’s planning an all-out offensive to stop the USDA adopting these recommendations.
We’ve got to act fast: the USDA is accepting comments on its Dietary Guidelines until May 8. If hundreds of thousands of us submit comments supporting the USDA’s stance, we can stop the cattle lobby from blocking action on climate change.
And USDA recommendations matter — the guidelines are used to set food policy in schools and other big institutions, which in turn influences the behaviour of big food suppliers. And they’re only updated once every five years.
Hundreds of thousands SumOfUs members have taken action to protect our food system from corporate control. Last year, we delivered over 170,000 signatures to Monsanto calling on the food giant to be transparent about the risks of GMOs. Tens of thousands of SumOfUs members chipped in to support Vermont in its legal battle with Monsanto for the right to label GMO products, and we continue to hold giant agribusiness accountable for terrorizing farmers in Guatemala, Mexico, India and around the world.
New U.S. Dietary Recommendations First to Consider Environmental Impact, National Geographic, February 20, 2015