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21285New Brighter Green Policy Paper / Beyond the Pail: The Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia

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  • MaryFinelli@...
    Feb 20, 2014
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      Brighter Green is pleased to announce the release of a new policy paper exploring the growth of industrial dairy systems in India, China, and countries of Southeast Asia. This paper, Beyond the Pail: The Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia, explores the trend toward increased dairy consumption and production and argues that the growth of industrial systems results in severe consequences for the environment, public health, animal welfare, and rural economies.

      The policy paper, available here, utilizing graphs and fully sourced, examines systemic changes in Asia while also providing country-specific case study analyses of Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Viet Nam. We hope you find the paper, designed to be a resource for policy-makers, civil society organizations, academics, students, and the media, useful in your work. We'd welcome any feedback you may have.

      By 2025, countries in the global South are expected to consume nearly twice as much milk and dairy products as they did in 1997, rising to 375 million metric tons from 194 million metric tons a year. This untapped “emerging” market consists of nearly 3 billion potential new dairy consumers. Although traditional diets in most Asian countries, apart from India, include virtually no or negligible amounts of dairy, this historical reality is changing. Asia is now the world’s highest dairy-consuming region, with 39 percent of global consumption, largely due to China and India, the world’s two most populous countries.

      Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or “factory farms” for dairy production are being set up across Asia, many housing thousands of cows, by global and new national dairy corporations often working in partnership with governments. But the detrimental impacts of this phenomenon for Asia are still largely undocumented. Although promoted as an efficient means of producing large quantities of animal products in a short time period, CAFOs create high levels of waste and pollution, affecting the livelihoods of workers and surrounding communities, contaminating local soil and water supplies, and producing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. CAFOs also subject animals to confined spaces and numerous inhumane practices and contribute to the rise of zoonotic diseases, negatively affecting public health. Additionally, large-scale milk producers often put local dairy producers out of business, affecting the livelihoods of many, often rural, populations. 

      The growth of industrial dairy can be seen throughout Asia. In Viet Nam, an enormous dairy CAFO is being constructed that, when fully operational in 2017, will have nearly 140,000 cows and may well be the largest dairy CAFO in the world. In China, the world's third largest milk producing nation, domestic production of milk is expected to triple by 2030 and the number of dairy CAFOs is increasing rapidly. Cambodia, where people traditionally consumed virtually no dairy, milked its first cow during the opening of the country's first dairy operation, a CAFO, in 2011; the facility is located on the edge of a national park that's a refuge for endanged species. India now accounts for 16 percent of global milk production, making it the largest milk producing country in the world (surpassing the U.S.) and its small-scale dairy sector is becoming more industrial. And in Indonesia, global dairy giants like Danone and Nestle are active, and imports of "high-yielding" international dairy cow breeds are rising. The government wants to double the number of dairy cows in Indonesia by 2020.

      The effects of the rapid increase of industrialized dairy in Asia, growing consumption of Western-style diets, and the use of intensive systems of production for farmed animals ought to be higher on the international agenda as a crucial opportunity to reduce global greenhouse gases, pollution, and public health risks and to create a more sustainable, equitable, humane, and climate-compatible food system.

      "It's crucial for policy makers and civil society to take notice of the consequences of dairy CAFOs now," says the paper's author Jessika Ava. "Many operations are in the early development and planning stages, and can thus be halted, allowing for the reintroduction of more traditional, more sustainable plant-based agricultural systems for long-term food and livelihood security." Beyond the Pail: The Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia includes a set of recommendations for policy-makers, civil society organizations, international institutons, and the private sector to move in this direction before it's too late.

      Based in New York, Brighter Green works to transform public policy and dialogue on the environment, animals, and sustainability, both globally and locally, with a particular focus on equity and rights. For more information, please visit www.brightergreen.org or email me at macdonald@....

      Thank you for your time and your work.

      Best wishes,

      Mia MacDonald


      Mia MacDonald
      Executive Director
      Brighter Green

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