Sustainable-beef initiative moves forward

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The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, a coalition of stakeholder companies and organizations interested in the future of beef production, has registered as a non-profit organization in Switzerland.

The founding members of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) include: AllFlex, Allianca de Terra, Cargill, Elanco, Grupo de Trabalho da Pecuaria Sustentavel (GTPS), JBS, McDonald’s, Merck Animal Health, National Wildlife Federation, Rainforest Alliance, Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Australia, Solidaridad, The Nature Conservancy, Walmart and World Wildlife Fund.

In November 2010, the roundtable organized a Global Conference on Sustainable Beef, which drew about 300 participants including producers, packers, retailers, restaurateurs, environmentalists, scientists and others. At that time, the coalition had no formal organizational structure, but the group announced this week it has adopted statutes and bylaws that will guide its work, and formalized the organization’s commitment to a global beef supply chain. The group emphasizes the “triple-bottom-line” approach to sustainability, meaning the production chain must be environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.

Speaking to reporters in a Feb. 22 news conference, the roundtable’s president, Ruaraidh Petre, International Program Coordinator for Livestock, Solidaridad in Switzerland, said the GRSB plans to expand its membership from across the international beef-production chain and develop a lifecycle analysis of beef production practices over the coming year.  “More efficient, environmentally sustainable approaches to bringing beef from farm to fork will help conserve our planet’s finite resources while also supporting our communities and our members’ bottom lines,” he adds.

Jose-Luis Bretones, Director of Global Supply Chain Strategy, McDonald’s, says his company is working toward sourcing beef from sustainable sources worldwide, and views the GRSB as a means of identifying and verifying sustainable production practices.Michael Martin, Director of Communications, Cargill, says that while Cargill produces and markets food around the world, its beef operations are primarily in the United States. But as the company anticipates the challenge of helping feed an additional 2.5 to 3 billion people by 2050, it sees collaboration as the best approach for boosting production while protecting natural resources worldwide.

Dave McLaughlin with the World Wildlife fund says the group aims to reduce environmental and social impacts of beef production, noting that internationally, beef is produced in environmentally sensitive areas, and growing demand for meat creates challenges for protecting natural resources.

Brian Bolton, CEO, AllFlex, says his company accounts for identification devices on more than half of the world’s identified cattle. He stresses that sustainable beef production that meets the growing global demand for protein will require more technology and more intensive production, rather than less. Animal identification plays a role in continued improvements in productivity. He also stressed that the GRSB is a “pro-beef” organization.

John Carter, CEO, Allianca de Terra, says his organization represents 500 ranchers with seven million acres and one million cattle in Brazil. He outlined the rapid advancements Brazilian producers are making in environmental stewardship and production efficiency. Brazilian beef producers, he says, are trying to achieve in 10 years what U.S. producers have achieved over the past century. His organization is anxious to show consumers the sustainable resource-management practices beef producers already use.

The GRSB plans to focus its efforts on the following issue categories:

  • Air (Including greenhouse gas emissions)
  • Biodiversity
  • Energy
  • Soil
  • People and animals (Including communities, business, nutrition and food safety)
  • Water

Read more about the GRSB at

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Mark Manoukian    
Malta  |  February, 23, 2012 at 09:17 AM

This group is very interesting. Some of its members are "do as I say, not as I do". The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) created an organization called The American Prairie Foundation. It is funded by the likes of the Mars Family and the Wyse Foundation. The APF uses a charitable tax id status to buy agricultural property in hopes of creating a 3 million acre wildlife preserve. The WWF acted on the part of APF and asked the Interior Department to remove an estimated 50,000 beef cows (and their owners) from rangelands in north central Montana. The voided area would be home to a wild free roaming buffalo herd. This idea is supported by the National Wildlife Federation. I do not believe that the country of Switzerland has the best interest of the US in mind.

USA  |  February, 23, 2012 at 04:13 PM

Some remedy needs to be found to stop pulling US lands out of production. De-industrializing America has to stop. Maybe land pulled out of production like that should be taxed at full value. Maybe the NGOs charters should be pulled. Maybe both and more. Something has to be done. Too many people are sitting silently on the side lines. I've recently learned about the foolishness of pulling ag lands out of production through the Conservation Reserve Program that is destroying industry. Then I found out about gov't payments to stop logging. The big economic damage was done in the late 1980's. We have to stop the economic slide into poverty. There are millions who will become very poor in the US and who will suffer mightly if we do nothing.

Dave Solberg    
Montana and South Dakota  |  February, 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM

I have a feeling that Cargill, Allflex, McDonald's, Walmart and Merck are all going to learn what we ranchers have learned the hard way over the past 20 years. You cannot trust the motives of what TAX-FREE, parasitic,altruistic environmental organizations say and promise. Honesty and character mean nothing to them. Neither does US beef!!!! I don't trust em.

Ddee Haynes    
Oklahoma  |  February, 23, 2012 at 12:26 PM

I agree with you 100%! They are going to put so many rules and regulations on producers that there will be no way anyone can make a profit. Be very careful and look further into who else is behind the curtain. I have a feeling names associated w/HSUS will be found the deeper you look.

Bill Norris    
Montana  |  February, 23, 2012 at 03:12 PM

Just another attempt at world socialism funded and promoted by unknown, monied do gooders.

Marana, AZ  |  February, 24, 2012 at 06:21 AM

I often wonder how many, IF ANY McDonald's franchisees support their State cattlemen's associations? How many are members of NCBA? Whenever one or two of these billionaire organizations gets involved in any cause its all just about expanding their own power and greed and deceiving or bullying family ranches and small businesses and entire communities into submission until they are off the map altogether.

andy hutchison    
oklahoma  |  February, 28, 2012 at 12:02 AM

Heard of Agenda 21 and ICLEI? Search Youtube for an explaination of what's happening. Not sure who to trust anymore as I believe some so-called friends of ag have been subtly pushing this agenda right under our noses. Producers we're at war, if you see something say something. .

ok  |  February, 07, 2013 at 10:01 PM

sounds like agenda 21 ?

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