Fast food firms are looking more closely at their supply chains as institutions drive welfare issues up the agenda

More meat is being produced and consumed globally than ever before. This has led to mounting concern over the impact on the environment and on global warming, as well as a growing awareness of the impact of intensive farming on the welfare of animals and humans.

According to The World Counts, an NGO that provides real-time data on the state of the planet, meat production increased fivefold inthe second half of the 20th century and the amount eaten per person doubled. Meat consumption is on track to increase by as much as 160% by 2050.

This has major environmental impact. “Huge amounts of energy and water go into feeding cattle, and vast areas of land are cleared for grazing,” says Sabrina Vigilante, director of markets transformation, Latin America, for the Rainforest Alliance. “Carbon dioxide emissions from forest clearing, combined with methane emissions from cattle, make up one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change.”

Sabrina Vigilante works on Latin America issues for the Rainforest Alliance

But of greater concern to environmentalists and consumers, particularly in the US, is the health impact of intensive livestock production, or factory farming. In May...

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