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Planet on a plate

Factory Farming / Water Eutrophication / Bio Accumulation / Nitrogen Pollution / Manure / Acid Rain / Water Usage / Top Soil / Energy / Inefficiency of Meat / Global Warming / Meat - Guilty / Wildlife / Desertification / Species Loss / Fishing / Fish Farming / Conclusion / References

Global warming is increasing, the hole in the ozone layer is getting bigger, rainforests are disappearing, deserts are expanding, fossil fuels are running out and seas are dying.

So what's this got to do with diet? Everything!

The meat industry directly contributes to all the major environmental catastrophes facing our planet. The number of farmed animals in the world has quadrupled in the last 50 years, and this puts an incredible strain on the environment. Food production no longer nurtures the land; instead both animals and soil are pushed to their limits and beyond in an effort to satisfy the voracious appetite of the western world. It is an appetite for both food and profit.

The current buzz word is 'sustainable' and yet modern agriculture is manifestly unsustainable. Rainforests are still being chopped down either for grazing or to grow crops to feed to animals. The crops require pesticides and fertilizers that then leach into waterways, causing massive pollution. The increased numbers of animals means more manure, which contributes to acid rain, pollutes rivers and lakes and renders drinking water unsafe. Soil is pushed beyond its fertility limits, is not replenished or fallowed and becomes prone to erosion. Top soil, the very stuff of life, is now a rapidly disappearing commodity. Oceans are being destroyed by overfishing, which is devastating entire marine ecosystems, while coastal fish farms are causing extensive pollution and wildlife decline.

That, in a nutshell, is what confronts us, and it is a pretty depressing picture. Despite an abundance of scientific evidence that the world's life support systems are being seriously eroded, the situation is getting worse, not better, as the scale of decline accelerates.

We will show the many ways that growing grains has a negative impact on the environment. Growing grains to be fed to animals significantly increases the problems because it takes more grain to produce the same amount of food from animals as it would to eat the grains directly.

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Factory Farming
Farming practices have intensified over the last 60 years and resulted in a powerful and destructive industry based on 'intensive' or 'factory' farming. Its aim is to increase yields while decreasing the cost of production. The welfare of animals is rarely considered in the equation, so they are kept in tightly packed and frequently inhumane conditions to ensure maximum profit.

More animals need more crops to feed them so there is pressure on agricultural farmers to increase crop yields. Over 70% of grain produced in the U.S. is fed to livestock and 29% of the landmass of the U.S. is currently used as grazing land, primarily to feed cattle (1). A typical steer will consume about two tons of grain while it is at a feedlot, just to gain 400 pounds in weight (2).

Animal feed crops are often products of monoculture - a practice that involves growing the same crops in the same field year after year with no fallowing or rotation. Soil cannot sustain such intense demands, so chemical fertilizers are used to promote crop growth as a matter of course. Growing feed for industrial animal agriculture systems changes land use, harming biodiversity through habitat loss and ecosystem damage (3).

Improper grazing has caused extensive environmental damage and rangeland degradation in the Western U.S.; topsoil erosion is a serious problem in the U.S. and to a large extent is caused by the monoculture of corn and soybeans for the pig and chicken industries (4).

Without its hedgerow and woodland habitats, wildlife has gone into serious decline and natural predators of crop-pests have been decimated, allowing the pests to thrive. The answer is to kill them with chemical pesticides. Weeds, which compete with crops for nutrients, sunlight and moisture, are also destroyed, with herbicides. This constant saturation of our countryside with poisons has led to some insects and weeds developing resistance to the chemicals. So what happens? Even more powerful concoctions have been developed.

Chemical warfare has been declared in a vicious circle of madness. Seven hundred and fifty million pounds of some twenty thousand different pesticides are poured over the U.S. landscape annually (5). Some are carcinogenic, while others promote allergies, birth defects and various health problems (6).

Water Eutrophication
The high nitrogen content of fertilizers causes algae to thrive and has led to algal blooms so toxic that they have killed healthy dogs who have swum through them. The sheer density of algae can block out sunlight, denying it to other plants and fish. When the algae dies, its remains are broken down by bacteria that remove oxygen from the water in the process and can suffocate most life.

This process is called eutrophication and even the seas are not safe from it. In 1981, ‘83 and ‘86, large quantities of flatfish were found dead in the North Sea where this process had led to an 80 percent oxygen decrease in bottom waters (7). A “dead” zone in the Gulf of Mexico of up to 7,000 square miles that can no longer support most aquatic life is linked to nutrients from farm runoff – including animal waste.
This type of pollution is also believed to be linked to Pfiesteria outbreaks and massive fish kills in the coastal waters of North Carolina and Maryland (8).

Bio-accumulation
The chemical cocktail sprayed on agricultural land is accumulating and contaminating reservoirs, rivers, lakes and ponds, and its residues can be found throughout the food chain. Just as with heavy metals, these residues are increasingly concentrated the higher up the food chain you go by a process of bio-accumulation. Chemicals present in waterways are absorbed by micro-organisms. Aquatic life feeds on huge quantities of these organisms, which are then eaten by fish and the residues they contain are stored in their fatty tissues.

Fish are fed to chickens, used as fertilizer or are eaten by humans, and the residues continue to concentrate up the food chain - and the higher you go, the larger the dose of toxins you receive. A similar process takes place with livestock, who consume vast quantities of residue-containing food. It is particularly marked in dairy products, which can contain 14 times more contaminants than plant foods. The way to reduce your level of ingestion of these chemicals is to choose your diet from low down the food chain - from plants - preferably organic plants.

Nitrogen pollution
Fertilizers contain large amounts of nitrogen, which leaches from the soil on which it is spread into ground water and eventually into underground reservoirs - the source of much of our water supply. Nitrogen in drinking water is associated with ‘blue baby syndrome’ - a potentially fatal destruction of the red blood cells in new-born children.

Nitrogen can also transform into nitrites, which can combine with proteins in food to form nitrosomines, which are carcinogenic - cancer promoting. Throughout chicken country, as many as one-third of all wells exceed EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) safe drinking water standards for nitrate, a form of nitrogen concentrated in chicken waste that seeps into groundwater, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (9).

The USGS has also found trace amounts of arsenic in the Pocomoke River (which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay), which is probably the residue of arsenic added to chicken feed to destroy parasites and promote growth. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America and is home to approximately 3,000 species of plants and animals (10).

Manure
Waste from intensive farming also poses an environmental threat. A lot of manure, particularly pig manure, is stored with water as slurry. This toxic liquid is 100 times more polluting than human sewage and it frequently leaks into rivers and streams where it can exterminate all life.

There is obviously a simple equation - the more animals, the more manure. Both have increased dramatically (11). In 1992, the waste from livestock was 13 times as much as from humans in the U.S. (12). In 1998 the amount of animal manure produced was 2.6 trillion pounds (13). Ammonia emissions from manure can settle on plants and soil, resulting in toxicity and biodiversity loss; spreading manure on land can lead to nitrates in groundwater, posing health hazards; manure can accumulate heavy metals, contaminating crops and increasing health risks (14).

Acid Rain
Stored slurry contains large amounts of ammonia, which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Their action creates acid, which evaporates, and then combines with nitrous oxide from fertilizers and industrial pollution to form acid rain. Acid rain is extremely destructive and sours soil, destroys forests and renders once prolific waters lifeless. After the burning of fossil fuels, animal manure is the second biggest cause of acid rain.

Water usage
Animal agriculture uses huge amounts of water, energy and chemicals, often with little regard for the long-term adverse effects. Many irrigation systems are pumping water from underground reservoirs much faster than they can ever be recharged.

The University of California studied water use in their state, where most agricultural land is irrigated, and they place water use for vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes and carrots in the 20 to 30 gallon range for an edible pound of food. It takes 441 gallons of water to make a pound of beef (15). Sixty four percent of U.S. arable land is used for livestock feed.

Fresh water, once a seemingly abundant resource, is now becoming scarce in many regions and that poses a real threat to the stability of the world. Numerous countries are in dispute over water supplies, and the seeds of future wars are clearly beginning to germinate.

Between 1940 and 1980, world-wide usage of water has doubled and 70 percent of it goes into agriculture (16).

Top soil
Top soil is the fertile upper layer of soil without which almost nothing will grow. It is essential for life and yet it is being eroded at an alarming rate through over use and denaturing due to the over-use of fertilizers and pesticides.

In the 20th Century alone, the US has lost half its topsoil and 7 billion tons a year continue to be eroded (17). Its structure has been so distorted that wind and water can simply carry it away (18). With luck, topsoil is replenished at a rate of 2.5 centimeters every 100 years.

Some 85 percent of top-soil loss is attributed to livestock rearing (19). Around the world, topsoil is being eroded at rates 16 to 300 times faster than it can regenerate (20).

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Energy
Intensive farming requires large amounts of energy: fuel to run huge combine harvesters, tractors and other machinery; energy to produce and transport pesticides and fertilizers; and fuel to refrigerate and transport perishable produce across the country and around the world. Fossil fuels are required throughout this process and their use contributes to ozone depletion and global warming.

Inefficiency of Meat
Animals use the energy they gain from food to move around, breathe, grow, keep warm and perform all their bodily functions - just as we do. Only six percent of their energy intake ends up being stored in flesh or milk. For every 16 pounds of high-protein food fed to cattle, only one pound of meat results. In terms of food energy, it takes 24 calories in the form of grain or soy to produce a single calorie of beef (21).

In fact, the more a cow is milked, the more grain concentrates she needs (22).

Looked at from a global perspective, livestock production represents an obscene waste of food and a betrayal of the world's poor. High quality food such as wheat and soy, which could feed humans, is being fed to animals and largely wasted. The amount of feed consumed by the US beef herd alone would feed the entire populations of India and China - two billion people. As factory farming is spread to these and other developing countries, the implication for world food resources is deeply depressing. As always, it will be the poorest who pay the price in disease and famine.

A vegetarian - or even better a vegan - diet is capable of feeding the entire population of the world - and then some (23)!

Global Warming
Carbon Dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere. They act like the glass on a greenhouse by trapping the sun's heat and reflecting it back to earth. This phenomenon is what makes the world habitable, keeping the atmosphere about 33°C/92°F higher than it would otherwise be. But animal agriculture adds significantly to global warming. Scientific American (9/97) reported that growing feed for livestock requires intense use of synthetic fertilizer, releasing nitrous oxide – a far stronger greenhouse gas than CO2. Producing feed and heating buildings that house animals uses fossil fuels, emitting CO2; decomposition of liquid manure releases larger amounts of methane into the atmosphere as well as forming nitrous oxide (24).

The concentration of carbon dioxide, methane or nitrous oxide has, until now, been determined by a complex interaction between oceans, forests, soil, ice-caps and clouds. These natural changes have taken place over millions of years. However, the last few decades have seen an extraordinary explosion in these three greenhouse gases. The result has been global warming. All 10 of the hottest years on record have occurred in the last 15 years.

Warmer weather might sound great to those who live in cold climates, but such dramatic changes could actually mean disaster. Britain's Hadley Center for Climate Change has predicted dramatic events, including, for example, flooding. As the polar ice caps melt and the world's oceans warm and expand, flooding will be a global problem. The number of people on coastlines subject to flooding each year will rise from 5 million at present to 100 million by 2050 and 200 million by 2080. Vast tracts of land and some island countries will disappear under water permanently as sea levels rise. Mass migrations of millions of landless people present a potential environmental and humanitarian disaster as well as threatening potential serious conflict.

Another 30 million people will be hungry in 50 years because large parts of Africa will become too dry to grow crops. An extra 170 million people will live in countries with extreme water shortages.

Malaria, one of the world’s most dreaded diseases, will threaten much larger areas of the planet (25).

The tundra regions of the world contain within their frozen soil an incalculable amount of methane. As the soil defrosts with increasing temperatures, billions of tons of gas may be released to add to the global warming. The more the earth warms, the more gas will be released. This is called positive feedback and could mean that the greenhouse effect becomes unstoppable with unknown consequences.

There is much talk about planting more trees to replace those cut but it is only a partial answer. Rainforests developed over thousands of years and constitute unique and perfectly balanced ecosystems which, once destroyed, cannot be successfully replaced (26).

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Meat - Guilty!
Rainforests are as important to life on Earth as our lungs are to our own well-being. They are the planet’s breathing system. They soak up carbon dioxide and give off oxygen in a process that helps control pollution and provides the key to life. In fact rainforests produce 70 percent of all the oxygen in the world (27).

Every hour, at least an additional 4,500 acres fall to chain saws, machetes, bulldozers and flames (28). Rainforests are chopped down initially for the large trees, which are used for timber. The rich tapestry of saplings, seedlings, shrubs, bushes, plants and smaller trees are cut to the ground and burned - as are many of the creatures who depend upon them. The barren land which results from slash and burn is largely used as grazing or growing feed for livestock cattle (29).

The U.S. imported 4.2 percent of our 2.07 billion pounds of imported beef from Brazil; that’s over 80 million pounds of beef (30).

Slash and burn eradicates all growth and unlocks centuries worth of stored CO2 in only minutes when the wood is burned. It floats upwards and contributes to global warming.

One of the most affected areas is Costa Rica, which was once almost entirely clad in trees. In the last 20 years, nearly 80 percent of its forests have been cut. Just one hamburger made from Costa Rican beef is estimated to cost the life of a large tree, 50 saplings and seedlings of some 20-30 different species, hundreds of species of insects and a huge diversity of mosses, fungi and micro-organisms (31).

More cattle means more belching and this is now the second largest contributor to global warming after fossil fuel burning. World-wide, livestock produces 882 tons of methane per year and accounts for 17 percent of all global warming emissions of methane (32). Methane is 20 times more effective at warming the globe than CO2, which it joins above the earth (33).

Wildlife
A branch of the USDA, called the U.S. Department of Wildlife Services (formerly known as Animal Damage Control) kills wildlife to protect the interests of farmers, i.e. the herds of sheep, cows, etc. Each year the federal government hunters and trappers kill about 100,000 coyotes, bobcats, feral hogs, and mountain lions. They are shot from airplanes, caught in steel-jaw leghold traps or neck nooses, or poisoned with cyanide (34). This number does not include the many animals mistakenly caught in traps or the animals the killed by the landowners themselves. It’s ironic that wild animals are killed for eating their natural prey just so that humans can kill and make a profit off those same domesticated animals.

Desertification
According to the United Nations, deserts are growing at the rate of 74,592 square miles every year - an area the size of England and Scotland (35). This decline of once fertile soil into desert land is called desertification. One of the major contributors to the process is cattle ranching and the grazing of other livestock such as sheep, camels and goats on the margins of existing deserts.

Ex-rainforest land is particularly prone to deterioration as the soil is comparatively thin. It has adapted over thousands years to support the forest with its network of roots, and these in turn hold the soil together. The effect of cattle grazing, with their heavy bodies and hard hooves, is to compact the soil, break down its structure and reduce its fertility. The loss of trees also leads to a reduction in water vapor, which prompts climate change and reduces rainfall levels. The eventual end result of these different factors is desert. Unfortunately, when the soil becomes dry, lifeless and unsuitable for cattle, the ranchers move on and start the process again somewhere else.

Species Loss
The scale of deforestation means that thousands of species, possibly millions, are losing their habitat at an accelerating rate. The richly abundant and often unique flora and fauna of the forests are disappearing. Every hour, a further four plant or animal species become extinct (36). It is estimated that at least one half of the world's species live in the rainforests.

Many rainforest plants have valuable medicinal properties and contain the only known cure for certain diseases. They are used to treat cancer, strokes, heart disease and many other illnesses. By wiping out the rainforests we are possibly destroying an abundant supply of new drugs capable of curing major diseases. Many of the species being destroyed are unknown to humankind.

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Fishing
Countless birds and other animals suffer and die from injuries caused by swallowing or becoming entangled in discarded fishing hooks, monofilament line, and lead weights (37).

Commercial fishing of the oceans has decimated both fish stocks and the aquatic environment. Herring, cod, jacks, redfish and mackerel are the fish species that are most commonly exploited commercially across the world. There are several methods used for commercial fishing:

Trawling
Trawlers, some the size of football fields (38), work non-stop across the oceans' fishing grounds, plying backwards and forwards in a never-ending process which scoops up huge quantities of fish and destroys the sea bed and the creatures that live there. Nets like huge tapering bags are used, and the mouth of the bag can be 224 ft. wide. It is kept open by huge, metal-bound trawl (otter) boards that can weigh tons and crush and grind to destruction anything in their path.

A variant is the beam trawl, where a long metal beam is fixed to the underside of the net's opening. Floatation devices keep the mouth of the net open and dangling from the beam are 'tickler' chains, which drag along the bottom forcing almost every creature from its hiding place into the mouth of the net.

Between 60 and 80 million tons of fish are caught from the seas of the world each year by trawling. The total for all methods is about 100 million tons. Fish that are too small, non-target species or species with no commercial value are discarded. This can include almost every creature from the sea or sea bed - sea urchins, brittle stars, crabs, dolphins, seals and sea-birds.

As shrimp nets are dragged through the water, they catch every living creature in their path - trapping both shrimp and unwanted fish and sea turtles. Sea turtles caught in shrimp nets are held under water until they drown. Thousands of endangered sea turtles are killed in this way every year (39).

The ecological balance of oceans is disturbed when the catch rate exceeds the natural reproduction rate. This is overfishing. All 17 of the world's major fisheries have either reached or exceeded their limits. The North Sea is cleared of a quarter of its fish every year.

Drift Netting
Drift nets hang like curtains from the surface of the sea. Constructed from thin but strong monofilament nylon, they are virtually invisible to all sea life. They can be up to an incredible 30 miles long. The target fish are often tuna, but as dolphins tend to congregate where tuna swim, they too die in large numbers. Rays, sharks, sea birds and small whales all become entangled in these ghostly nets.

It is not uncommon for nets to become detached in rough weather and float away to kill large numbers of animals and birds. When weighed down with dead bodies they sink to the bottom, but once the carcasses have rotted, they float back to the surface and continue their destruction. Thousands of dolphins, porpoises, small whales, sea lions, and walruses are killed by drift nets each year (40).

Purse Seine Netting
A purse seine net is suspended from the surface, the bottom of it many fathoms below the surface. The boat pays out the net in a complete circle so the effect is like that of a tube of netting hanging down, surrounding the target school of fish. A kind of drawstring at the bottom of the net is pulled tight so the net represents a purse with an open top but a closed bottom. The top is then also closed and the net hauled inboard. Again, tuna are caught by this method and, again, many dolphins drown in the purse seine nets as a result.

Wildlife
Many birds, including razor-bills, cormorants, and little auks, feed mainly on sand eels, sprats and small herrings, all of which are heavily exploited by fishermen. In 1994, overfishing in the North Sea was believed to have caused about 100,000 birds to starve, and the problem seems to be worsening.

Commercial fishermen often blame the low numbers of fish on local wildlife and call demand culling to solve the problem. As a result, seals have been killed in their thousands - 51,000 in Russia and 250,000 in Canada and there are similar demands being made in Britain. In February of 1999, a proposal was presented to Congress by the National Marine Fisheries Service to allow fishermen and ‘resource’ managers to shoot Pacific harbor seals and California sea lions along the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington to protect the dwindling stocks of salmon and steelhead and to reduce competition for fish between these pinnipeds and humans (41).

The flesh of fish often stores dangerous contaminants, such as PCB’s, suspected of causing cancer, nervous systems disorders, and fetal damage; dioxins, also linked to cancer; radioactive materials like strontium 90; and such toxic metals as cadmium, mercury, lead, and arsenic, which can cause health problems ranging from kidney damage and mental retardation to cancer (42).

Fish Farming
Overfishing and the subsequent collapse of many commercial fisheries has led to an increase in fish farming. According to the National Fisheries Institute in the U.S., farmed catfish production in 1995 was 447 million pounds, pen-raised salmon was 34 million pounds, Tilapia was 15 million pounds and hybrid striped bass totaled 9 million pounds (43). Rainbow trout and Atlantic salmon are the most popular species but there are also farms for carp, marine fin fish and eels.

Factory-farmed fish are kept in shallow concrete troughs. The intensive crowding – as many as five fish per square foot – spreads infection and parasites, so factory fish farmers use antibiotics and growth hormones to get more fish fatter faster (44).

In the U.S., there are only five drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be used in food fish; however there are fifteen in Europe and twenty-four in Japan. This should give anyone who eats fish another reason to be concerned, since the U.S. imports approximately 60 percent of its fish and shellfish (45).

Other chemicals used in fish farming include the pigment Canthaxanthin, used to turn the fish's flesh from its natural gray to pink. Canthaxanthin is banned in the USA because it is believed to be carcinogenic (46).

According to the executive director of the Marine Aquatic Association, farmed salmon are pale because they have been weaned off their carotenoid-rich diets. The FDA has approved Asta (the carotenoid pigment Astaxanthin) to help restore fish to their natural color. Red year (Pfaffia rhodozyma) is also being used on penned salmon to help their color (47).

Wildlife
As well as altering the natural balance of coastal waters, fish farms attract fish-eating wildlife. So the fish farmers often try to protect their stocks by killing the wildlife, including seals, otters, black guillemots, great northern divers, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks.

On March 4, 1998, a federal law took effect that allows fish farmers in 13 states to kill unlimited numbers of cormorants to protect their profits. Catfish and other species on fish farmers attract cormorants. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that 92,000 of these birds will be killed by fish farmers each year—about 5 to 10 percent of the North American population (48).

Pollution
Northern Hemisphere fish farms are commonly found in the same coastal areas as those polluted by industry, human sewage and agriculture. It is inevitable that fish will take in some of the toxins and concentrate them.

Fish farms also cause their own pollution, and one ton of farmed trout produces pollution equal to the untreated sewage of 200-300 people. Feces and food pellets are concentrated around the netted underwater cage, but the bulk accumulates beneath the cages. This toxic build-up causes de-oxygenation and can adversely affect local wildlife communities. Eutrophication can occur as the water is enriched with nitrates, phosphates and nitrogenous waste products.

Unfortunately, fish farming is now a global phenomenon for expensive creatures such as prawns and yellow tails. The coastal areas chosen for the farms are usually mangrove swamps, seen as useless areas ripe for exploitation. In fact they provide the most productive and important habitat in the oceans. Ninety percent of marine fish rely upon the amazing diversity provided by the mangroves, particularly for spawning. Over 2,000 species of fish, crustaceans and plants thrive there.

Mangroves prevent flooding, stop erosion, and are the nursery of ocean life - and they are being ripped up faster than anyone can count. Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Ecuador, Panama - clearance is rampant everywhere. The subtropical regions of the world have lost 70 percent of all mangrove swamps since 1960, largely to fish farming. After a few years the farms have to be moved, cutting down yet more mangroves. Desolation is left behind.

The environment pays a terrible price for that king prawn cocktail!

Conclusion

There is one thing within your power that will have a huge and immediate impact in protecting our planet, and that is to change your diet. Stop eating meat and fish today - and, give up dairy products. Any step you take is important, and you can immediately begin to remove yourself from the cycle of exploitation and destruction. Even better, raise your voice in protest, join with others such as Viva! and actively fight against the ruthless corporations who will allow greed to destroy the globe.

 

 

Planet on a Plate is an excellent introduction to the problems wrought by the traditional Western meat-based diet, and the increasing role that factory farms play in exacerbating an already dangerous situation. The production of large numbers of farmed animals under incredibly cruel circumstances has lead to air and water pollution, a huge waste of water and grain, and a host of public health problems, such as the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms. Planet on a Plate makes a compelling case that we are individually responsible for our own consumption and the resultant environmental, ethical and health consequences. There are more than six billion people who share our planet.

Ultimately it is they who have the power in the marketplace to determine which foods will be produced and sold, and to what extent the industrial model of agriculture will be replaced. It is clear that the adoption of the Western diet as a worldwide standard will ensure a planet with more disease, and increasingly severe environmental problems. Conversely, we know that plant-based protein is readily available, and it is less costly, both in terms of direct costs, and in terms of the "external" costs that we are already paying (e.g., for subsidies, environmental cleanup and to treat disease). Planet on a Plate offers insight into how our food consumption patterns impact on the biosphere and the earth's ability to sustain a growing human population. This publication deserves wide circulation and support - it is a valuable educational tool. Too many of us simply have not seen the connection between what we put on our plates and the state of our physical world, and our own health. We have not, for example, related the quality of our water to the foods that we purchase. We have not related the myriad of Western ailments to our diets. This is beginning to change. The evidence against industrial animal production ("factory farms") specifically, and meat-intensive diets in general is both overwhelming and compelling. Fortunately, this fact is being widely recognized and changes are occurring. For example, the veggieburger, once relegated to the status of a "niche market" is now commonplace in virtually every grocery store. The consumption of soy-based products is rising exponentially. Even major corporations such as The Kellogg Company and Kraft Foods have entered the vegetarian market in a significant way. Yes, positive change has begun. While it is true that we have a long way to go, Planet on a Plate will have enormous impact in hastening the dietary revolution that needs to occur. We can build the kind of planet, the kind of future that we want. But we need to act, and we need to get started now.

David Brubaker, Ph.D. is Director of the GRACE Project on Industrial Animal Production, Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. He also serves as a consultant to the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment in New York City. Brubaker is a graduate of Temple University, Southern Illinois University, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Committee for a Global Water Contract. Brubaker has served an a consultant to numerous non-governmental organizations. Previously he was the Executive Vice President of PennAg Industries Association, a regional agribusiness trade association. He is a former president of the Agricultural Associations Executive Council, and was a member of the board of Directors of the American Feed Industry Association. Long active in the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, he has served as Chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Executive Council and in many other Bay-related positions. He lives in Lititz, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.