Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Giant Corporations Behind Your Burgers and Milk Have a Terrifying Climate Secret

Together, five companies have a climate footprint bigger than Exxon, Shell, or BP, but we don’t talk about it.

Cheese Burger (Credit: Lauri Patterson) Click to Enlarge.
Beef burgers, ham sandwiches, cheese slices, yogurt, bread.  A good amount of the food you might eat on a daily basis is likely to have come from just three U.S companies:  Tyson, Cargill, and Dairy Farmers of America. 

Minnesota-based Cargill is the world’s biggest food trader, selling everything from grains and beef to eggs and palm oil.  Meat giant Tyson processes 35 million chickens, 424,000 pigs and 130,000 cattle every week in the U.S.  And Dairy Farmers of America accounts for 30 percent of all the milk produced in the country.

And in addition to providing your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they are some of the world’s most-polluting companies. 

The climate footprint of oil and gas giants such as Exxon Mobil, Shell, and BP are well-known, but food companies have faced far less scrutiny.  The world’s five largest meat and dairy companies combined, including Tyson, Cargill, and Dairy Farmers of America, are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions every year than any of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies.

And in a week when international climate scientists have warned that the world is rapidly running out of time to reduce emissions and keep global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius, this matters more than ever.

So where does this mega climate footprint come from?  The emissions cover everything from the production of crops to feed chickens, pigs, and cows to the methane emissions released by burping cattle.  Some less obvious emissions include those associated with farm machinery fuel and the production of chemicals and other inputs needed to grow grain, palm oil, and other food crops.

The food sector as a whole is estimated to be responsible for as much as 29 percent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions.  But meat and dairy account for the vast majority of those emissions.  A major study published this week says U.K. and U.S. citizens need to cut consumption of beef by 90 percent and consumption of milk by 60 percent to keep global warming at or below 2 degrees Celsius.

Read more at The Giant Corporations Behind Your Burgers and Milk Have a Terrifying Climate Secret

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