DEAR READERS: Cargill Inc., one of the world's biggest transnational agribusiness enterprises, is under scrutiny from human rights and environmental organizations, according to (Minnesota) Star-Tribune reporter Jennifer Bjorhus. In a recent article, she presents a disturbing picture of corporate imperialism in Cargill's involvement in the decimation of the Amazon rainforest and grasslands, and the disenfranchisement of indigenous peoples and longtime residents by the soy industry. (Full story: "Cargill's bid to open new port in Brazil opposed by human rights, conservation groups," May 29, startribune.com)
Much of the commodity crop of soy is used to feed livestock and poultry, despite the fact that the demand for meat and other animal products is now seen as a significant contributor to climate change and its adverse impacts on biodiversity, public health and long-term economic sustainability.
This issue of Cargill in Brazil is an opportunity for the company -- which reported a total revenue of $134.4 billion for 2021 -- to set the record straight and begin to label all its animal and plant products with regard to their "sustainably sourced" status. Foods should be certified by environmental organizations such as the Rainforest Action Network, and all animal produce should be Animal Welfare Certified as per the Global Animal Partnership.
Pet owners should consider if they are supporting Cargill in the cat and dog foods they purchase. Cargill has been marketing pet foods since the early 1960s, and currently produces or sells its brands, plus private-label pet foods, in 20 countries. The company also supplies ingredients for other pet food manufacturers, including carrageenan, which can make some animals develop inflammatory bowel problems. Cargill's Global Pet Food Ingredients market accounted for $35 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $68 billion by 2027.
Other pet food manufacturers, like Open Farm and The Honest Kitchen, are producing more acceptable fare, much of which is made with human-grade ingredient meats sourced from certified humanely raised animals. Some pet foods are even manufactured in the same facilities as foods for humans. There is no reason why larger pet food ingredient suppliers and manufacturers -- like Cargill, Mars Petcare, Nestle Purina Petcare, J.M. Smucker, General Mills and Colgate-Palmolive -- should not follow suit.
The mainstream pet food marketers are part of a global agricultural and human food industrial system that is contributing to the climate crisis while profiting from recycled ingredients -- many of which are condemned for human consumption and most of which are produced at cost to the environment. The hegemony of global corporate imperialism and capitalist colonialism is a reality. This must all change, and that calls for consumer involvement -- from boycotts to selective purchasing of both human foods and pet foods.
Corporate responsibility should apply to more than shareholder profits and mega-bonuses for CEOs. We are all responsible for social justice, environmental justice and for securing a more viable and less harmful global economy to sustain our basic needs.
TOO MUCH COPPER IN SOME DOG FOODS
The copper content in some commercial dog foods may be too high and could cause copper-associated hepatopathy, characterized by abdominal swelling, depressed appetite, excessive thirst and urination, jaundice, lethargy, diarrhea and vomiting, according to a study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Dog foods in the U.S. must contain a minimum amount of copper, but there is no upper limit. Anne Norris, a spokesperson for the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said the agency is studying the issue. (Full story: AVMA News, March 17)
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