Event / Intensification / Pro-Poor Livestock

Getting the clever benefits of kinder livestock farming on the ‘Rio+20’ agenda

Sitting Ruby

A Gloucestershire Old Spots pig rescued from a ‘pastured pork’ operation that kills runty piglets (photo on Flickr by Marji Beach).

‘Human development and biodiversity will not be the only focus of the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June, for which representatives of hundreds of states and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will gather to discuss sustainable development.

‘The delegates will also deal with the wellbeing of farm animals and sustainable farming, thanks to the efforts of the London-based NGO World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the governments of the G-77 countries, Switzerland and New Zealand.

‘Together, they have helped to draft a part of the Rio+20 outcome text, to be negotiated in June, to “call upon all States to prioritise sustainable intensification of food production through increased investment in local food production”, especially in regard to women, smallholders, youth and indigenous farmers.

‘The draft text further demands an increase in “the use of appropriate technologies for sustainable agriculture”.

‘The WSPA, which sees itself not only as an animal advocacy group but also as one that supports sustainable agriculture, defines sustainable livestock production as part of a food and agriculture system that is ecologically sound, equitable for farmers and rural communities and other sectors of society, and humane in its use and treatment of livestock.

‘The livestock sector provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people worldwide—more than one-sixth of the global population—according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

‘A significantly higher proportion—about 70 percent—of the world’s rural poor, however, relies on livestock production for their livelihoods.

Industrial farming, which threatens the livelihoods of these people, especially smallholders, while simultaneously damaging socio-economic systems and the environment, came about during the second half of the twentieth century. . . .

The Rio+20 conference is about poverty reduction. If you really want to achieve that, there is no way to leave out such an important sector as the agricultural or the livestock sector,” Stephen Chacha of WSPA’s Tanzania branch told IPS.

‘”Governments really need to put more emphasis on this,” he added.

‘In order to convince the governments represented at the Earth Summit to take livestock farming into account, the NGO has collected more than 100,000 signatures in more than 165 countries in a petition addressing John W. Ashe and Sook Kim, the chairs of the Earth Summit. . . .

Growing movements around the globe point to the importance of animal welfare both for the sake of the climate and environment as well as for the sake of people’s health. Numerous studies and groups have found links between animal welfare and food safety.

‘. . . Although a gradual cultural shift is evident, with consumers growing more conscious of their food choices, the movement has yet to overpower industrial farming, and progress in the fight to create a sustainable and ecologically sound agricultural system can be painfully slow. . . .’

Read the whole article at IPS: Farm animals join Rio+20 agenda, 28 Apr 2012.

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