Soya fed to pigs - wreaking havoc on the planet
European agricultural policy, including the ban on the use of meat and bonemeal in animal feed since the BSE outbreak, has driven a dependence on imported soya to provide protein for fast growth. According to the United Nations FAO, almost all of the soyameal produced worldwide is used for animal feed (78). The vast majority of the world’s soya – around 75 per cent – is destined for the production of protein-rich animal feed for livestock, especially poultry and pigs (79). One third of Brazil’s soya is exported to the EU mainly to feed pigs and poultry.
Between 1967 and 2007 pork production increased globally by nearly 300 per cent, egg production by over 350 per cent and poultry by more than 700 per cent. As a result, demand for soya-based feed has sky-rocketed too – at the expense of some of the world’s most vital forests, grasslands and savannahs being cleared for soya fields. Approximately 80 per cent of the world’s soya is now genetically modified (GM) (79).
More than 30 million tonnes of soya are imported into Europe every year purely for livestock from areas totalling around 18 million hectares across the Americas. Almost all this soya is genetically modified because 90–99 per cent of the soya cultivated in the main producing countries consist of GM varieties (80).
According to Friends of the Earth UK: “soya grown and imported from Latin America has become the main source of protein in animal feed. It has created a soya boom where vast swathes of land in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina have been converted for largescale production – causing deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and the loss of valuable wildlife habitat. The livestock sector is responsible for an estimated 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation is a significant source. Reducing the impact of the livestock sector is critical if we are to prevent dangerous climate change. Soya farming has devastating local impacts, contaminating soil and water with pesticides and other inputs. It has also been linked to human rights abuses, forced evictions and intimidation of local communities. Small-scale farmers are pushed out by the vast soy monocultures and struggle to survive in the global agroindustry. Many are forced to sell up and leave the land. Crops for human consumption are being replaced by soya plantations for animal feed and biofuels. This pressure on food supplies has added to the recent volatility in global food prices, exacerbating global hunger” (81).