According to leading academic, Professor Raj Patel, the industrial farming is driving the sixth mass extinction of life on Planet Earth.
Professor Raj Patel said mass deforestation to clear the ground for single crops like palm oil and soy, the creation of vast dead zones in the sea by fertilizer and other chemicals, and the pillaging of fishing grounds to make feed for livestock show giant corporations can not be trusted to produce food for the world.
This is just one reason why geologists are considering declaring a new epoch of the Earth, called the Anthropocene, as the fossils of soon-to-be extinct animals will form a line in the rocks of the future.
The last mass extinction, which finished off the dinosaurs and more than three-quarters of all life about 65 million years ago, was caused by an asteroid strike that sent clouds of smoke all around the world, blocking out the sun for about 18 months.
Prof Patel, of the University of Texas at Austin, said: “The footprint of global agriculture is vast. Industrial agriculture is absolutely responsible for driving deforestation, absolutely responsible for pushing industrial monoculture, and that means it is responsible for species loss.
Speaking to The Independent, he pointed to a “dead zone” – an area of water where there is too little oxygen for most marine life – in the Gulf of Mexico that has grown to the same size as Wales because of vast amounts of fertilizer that has washed from farms in mainland US, into the Mississippi River and then into the ocean.
“That dead zone is not an accident. It’s a requirement of industrial agriculture to get rid of the sh*t and the run-off elsewhere because you can not make industrial agriculture workable unless you kick the costs somewhere else.
The Amazon and surrounding lands in South America are also under increasing pressure from soy plantations.“Various kinds of chemistry is deployed to make sure it is only soy that’s grown on these mega-farms.
“That’s what extinction looks like”. If you ever go to a soy plantation, animal life is incredibly rare. Some of the world’s most iconic animals, such as elephants, jaguars and penguins, are threatened due to these current farming practices.
In Sumatra, forests that are home to elephants and jaguars are being destroyed to make way for palm plantations, often to make feed for livestock kept in industrial meat factories.
And small fish like anchovies and sardines are being caught on a massive scale to be ground into fishmeal for farmed salmon, pigs and chickens. That means animals like penguins, which normally feed on them, are in big trouble.
The South African penguin population alone has plunged by at least 70% since 2004.
Some people thought being a vegetarian avoided contributing to the extinction crisis. Vegetarianism did not provide a “pure and simple” route out of the problem.
The capitalist will take your vegetarianism and make money from it with the same kind of techniques they have honed in meat manufacture.
Admitting that changing society so radically would be a challenge, Patel argued it was essential as people’s current aspirations were based on “images of consumption that are entirely unsustainable”.
The Independent / ABC Flash Point News 2018.