Esther’s Blog: Acce­lerate the tran­sition to green agri­culture - espe­cially now

30 מרץ 2022

During the municipal elections of March 16th, our Party for the Animals almost doubled its number of elected councilors: we grew from 33 to 63 seats in various Dutch municipalities. I am very happy and proud, as this means that there are now more politicians who are committed to fighting for a liveable Earth and protecting the wellbeing of humans and other animals. And as I wrote in my last blog, that is more important than ever.

The horrible war in Ukraine has been raging for over a month now. Millions of people have fled the country. In the Netherlands, the Party for the Animals participated in an anti-war protest this month. Together with our sister parties from around the world, we strongly condemned the aggression by Putin’s regime and pleaded for tough sanctions. We need to quit importing Russian gas, amongst other things. We have also pleaded for humanitarian aid and welcoming refugees generously. Next to this, we have been collecting money to offer aid to the animals and animal protectors left behind in Ukraine. More than 100,000 euros have been collected up until now.

At the same time, Ukrainian refugees are often separated from their pets in the Netherlands. Even though it is especially important for people who have just fled from a traumatic war to stay together with their pets. Animals are a part of the family. The Party for the Animals is working hard in the Dutch parliament to prevent people getting separated from their pets.

Esther Ouwehand and MP Lammert van Raan (Party for the Animals) with members of the Portuguese sister party PAN (People Animals Nature) during an anti-war protest in The Hague.

Prevent famine, reduce industrial livestock farming
Another consequence of the Russian invasion is that the production of wheat and grain is endangered. Especially now that food shortages are on the horizon, it is of crucial importance to reduce industrial livestock farming and to invest in growing plant-based proteins that can be consumed by humans directly. Earlier this month, over 400 scientists called upon governments to do this too. Currently, over half of the grains and legumes grown in Europe are fed to cows, pigs, and other animals in the livestock industry. Less than a quarter of the grains is meant for human consumption.

The University of Minnesota calculated that we can feed no less than four billion additional people if we quit using our pastures for cattle feed and bio fuels, and use them to grow crops for people instead. According to scientists from the University of Harvard, each acre that is used to grow food for humans rather than to grow fodder for cows, pigs, or chickens, can feed four times as many people. The climate panel of the United Nations, the IPCC, calculated that animals ‘deliver’ up to 95 percent less protein than they are fed. It takes about 20 kilos of fodder to produce 1 kilo of beef. An extremely inefficient process. The industrial livestock industry, more than anything, is a huge waste of food.

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Joseph Poore, scientist at the University of Oxford, highlights the disastrous impact of industrial livestock farming.

Keeping fewer animals in industrial livestock farming means less fodder and more pastures to grow crops directly for human consumption. The Party for the Animals, together with numerous scientists, has been pleading for years to grow less fodder and to grow more grains and plant-based proteins for humans. That would enable us to prevent food shortages in countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, and Yemen, where people simply cannot afford a price hike for bread and grains.

Unfortunately, lobbyists of polluting industries have already started abusing the war in Ukraine to plead for a delay in the transitions to a greener economy and a better protection of nature - transitions that have only just begun. The mighty and conservative agricultural lobby, for example, has pleaded to quit all European plans to improve the sustainability, health and animal welfare aspects of our food system, all under the guise of ‘food security’. They want industrial farming and the industrial livestock industry to grow even more, to further pollute our society, and to further deplete our soils. Their lobby is based on a single myth: the fact that the livestock industry is the way to guarantee our food security.

If the agricultural lobby is truly concerned with food security, they would support strongly reducing the number of animals kept in industrial farming. Let us make food security, rather than meat security, a priority. Putin’s war is no reason to hit the brakes, quite the opposite: it is a reason to accelerate the transition. Only then will we actually ensure that there is plenty of nutritious food. In times of war and peace.

Until next month!

Esther Ouwehand
Party leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals