Cow factory farm Advocates are calling on banks to stop investing in factory farming - Media Credit: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

Banks Facing Calls To ‘Stop Funding Factory Farming’ To Protect Animals, The Planet, And Public Health

The livestock sector is not on the radar of many development banks when it comes to reducing emissions despite being such a large contributor

By

4 Minutes Read

Development banks are facing calls to stop funding factory farming, which is playing a significant role in existential crises facing humanity including the climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and antibiotic resistance.

This is the message coming from Sinergia Animal, an international animal protection organization set up to ‘end the worst practices of industrial animal agriculture’. It works in countries of the Global South – Southeast Asia and Latin America.

The organization has scored some significant victories for animals. In addition, it was recognized as one of the most effective animal protection NGOs in the world by Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE) in 2018 after just over a year of work. It retained this recognition in 2019.

Animal agriculture

Sinergia Animal points out that factory farming is responsible for significant Amazon deforestation as well as 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The dirty and inhumane conditions in which industrially-farmed animals are kept cause tremendous animal suffering and are a major risk for the transmission of new zoonotic diseases similar to COVID-19.

Another public health threat in which animal farming plays a significant role is antibiotic resistance. According to the WHO, the ‘high volume of antibiotics in food-producing animals contributes to the development of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, particularly in settings of intensive animal production’.

Despite intensive animal farming being a major factor in these existential threats, money – to the tune of billions of dollars – has been poured into the sector by development banks.

Development banks

The role of development banks is to invest medium and long-term capital into industries in poorer countries in a bid to boost economic growth. What many may be troubled to learn is that taxes fund development banks.

Two of the world’s biggest development banks are the World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Despite pledging to tackle climate change, both have pumped billions of dollars into animal agriculture over the last decade.

They have invested $2.6bn (£2.1bn) into beef, pig, and poultry farming, as well as dairy production and abattoirs between them. This is in the last decade alone.

Development banks

This support goes against what these institutions should do, says Sinergia Animal. “A development bank’s mission should be to support the sustainable development of a country or a region,” spokesperson Carolina Galvani told Plant Based News.

“It does this with taxpayers’ money. Therefore, the projects, companies, and activities they finance should benefit the common good. Therefore, development banks should refrain from financing activities that hamper the achievement of the Paris Agreement goals and the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

“Industrial livestock is such a sector. This is due to its contribution to deforestation, GHG emissions, and pollution. And that’s not all. Other issues include zoonotic diseases, antibiotic resistance, unhealthy diets, and employees’ exposure to bad working conditions. 

“Moreover, it also causes immense animal suffering. Development banks should support countries in developing sustainable and fair food production systems, instead of financing intensive livestock projects.”

‘Crazily disjointed’

Sinergia Animal is not alone in its condemnation of these investments. Jeremy Coller is the head of investment firm Coller Capital and founder of responsible finance network FAIRR.

Coller has described the investment of public funds into intensive animal agriculture by these banks as ‘crazily disjointed and inconsistent’. This is because intensive agriculture is ‘one of the world’s highest-emitting industries’.

On the issue of the money coming from public funds, Sinergia Animal says: “Many taxpayers might not be so aware of the impacts of the industrial livestock sector. Still, in general, taxpayers would like their tax money to be invested in genuinely sustainable projects that benefit the common good and not in projects that benefit only a few corporations and contribute to many problems.”

‘A radical shift’

So how are development banks able to get away with pumping cash into these operations when they are so harmful? 

Sinergia Animal puts it down to a lack of knowledge. Galvani said: “For many banks, the livestock sector is still not really on their radar. They think about energy and transport when they think about reducing emissions, but not about livestock. This is strange, considering it is such a large contributor to GHG emissions.”

She added that while development banks have ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) policies in place, these are ‘narrow-focused’. And, they only look at the impacts of individual projects. This means as long as these respect certain impact limits, and certain GHG emissions, banks are able to finance them.

“But looking at projects at an individual level does not show the full picture,” said Galvani. “To meet the Paris Agreement’s goals and the SDGs, the world needs a radical shift in how it produces food. And it should be the role of a development bank to help countries, especially the ones from the Global South ones, to achieve this shift.”

You can find out more about Singeria Animal’s campaign to stop development banks investing in factory farming here. The organization is looking for voices worldwide to become advocates of this campaign and help spread this message.

*This content is supported by Singeria Animal International.

Millions around the world trust Plant Based News for content about navigating our changing planet & our role in it.

Our independent team of journalists and experts are committed to making an impact through a wide range of content—and you can help by supporting our work today.

heading/author

The Author

Maria Chiorando

Maria is the former editor for Plant Based News. She has been a newspaper reporter and features writer. Her work has been published by The Guardian and The Huffington Post, among others

More by Maria Chiorando iconography/arrow-right

heading/comments

Leave a Comment

Plant Based News Comment Policy

In short:- If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems. Please read our Comment policy before commenting.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sigridovski
Sigridovski
1 year ago

This is just what I supected. Now they need our support to close all big farms. Just look at what happens before a farmer decides to go big and keep 500
cows inside, never coming out and have calvs born every day. The real solution is to handle the real problem that came before and that cause
these factory farms to come. Farmers and small family farms
get suppressed by organizations that handle milk and farmers and they
get suppressed covertly by the government, so they cannot survive
economically, though they PRODUCE and have real production and are the
most ethical workforce on the planeet. They get mistreated, constantly.
100 small farms dissapear every year in Sweden. What you punish, you get
less of, even if it is someone or something good and what you reward,
you get more of, even if it is a criminal or bad activity. So stop
punishing the ordinary farmers and force them into doing what they don’t
like. Nobody likes factory farms – only the little circle of people who
control the planet and the politicians like such suppressive measures.
Naturally, if they get rid of natural, normal farming, such as small
organic farms that we always had and then make a few factory farms – all
they have to do now to create starvation and lack of food is to forbid
the factory farms. No, first give the farmer his freedom back, make them
come back to the farms and have only farming people buy farms, by
removing all taxation on farmsers. and by increasing their pay for their
products. Let them prosper and live well. Stop killing the farmer. THEN
get rid of the factory farms. Also make everything biodynamic and get
the old types of cows back and all kinds of organic herbs and
vegetables, nut and seed trees everywhere – also into the forests so
wildlife can come back. Stop killing the population slowly. Get rid of
those leaders who created this mess. They are the cause, not the
farmers, of the bad world situation we have now. Get some knowlwedgeable people from the biodynamic community to go around and interview farmers and ex farmers to see what happen that is not OK and make a true report of this – then handle accordingly to improve the conditions.

buttons/scroll-to-top/scroll-to-top-small-active
1
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x