EU factory farm subsidies cause animal cruelty and climate catastrophe

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Ireland exported a staggering 160,000 live male calves to Europe in 2018

The Guardian reports on the secret filming of unweaned male calves (cows) being treated with cruelty and disdain as they were transported from Ireland to the Netherlands for slaughter as veal. The mistreatment of animals in Europe’s factory farming model, and the horrendous practises of the dairy industry are truths that we prefer to ignore as we drink our cow’s lactation (designed for calves, not humans!) and chomp down on a burger that’s probably made from the flesh of a dozen animals, not all of them cows. The whole system is actually horrendous, when you think about.

EU factory farm subsidies – the horror!

41% of the EU’s €137 billion annual budget (2017) is given to farmers as handouts. So Europe funds the cruel live animal trade, while propping up the dairy sector that produces all those unwanted male calves, in a subsidy system that favours industrial-scale farming. Besides the justified ethical concern that we as Europeans are subsidising cruelty in factory farms across the EU, we are also helping industrial farming be a major contributor to climate change, greenhouse gases and plastic waste. Ireland’s agriculture sector contributes over a third of the country’s GHG emissions, and there is no hope of EU reduction targets being met in 2020. Or even 2030. Our track record is abysmal.

Top 3 ways the EU can fix agriculture, improve animal welfare and cut GHG emissions

  1. Short of banning live exports, which would be ideal, there should be a distance limit, say 200km. Livestock producers should be encouraged (maybe with those infamous subsidies?) to slaughter animals locally, adding value to the local economy, then exporting finished meat products. Or, better still, sell the meat locally also.
  2. Consider the impact that Europe’s huge herds of cows, pigs and sheep have on our greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture should be carbon-neutral and if that means shifting our tastes away from animal meat, so be it.
  3. Live animal exports to countries outside the EU should be banned completely and immediately. If EU-based companies treat animals with such cruelty as we have witnessed, what chance of welfare do animals have in places like Saudi Arabia, where even humans are treated with contempt? No chance.

Top 3 ways you can help end live export cruelty and agriculture’s impact on climate change

  1. When buying meat, always try to identify its source. If it came from another country – let alone another continent – refuse to buy it. Old-school butcher shops often rear and process their animals nearby, treating them better than any factory farm, and you can taste the difference.
  2. Lobby your MEP, especially with the upcoming elections front of mind. See if you can turn even one MEP against live exports (email a link to this article!). That could make a real difference.
  3. Meat-free alternatives are actually fab. There’s a lot of product development going into animal-free ‘meat’ that tastes as good as the real thing, with less saturated fat, growth hormones, antibiotics etc. Also, do you still drink cow’s milk? If so, you need to stop immediately. It’s just too weird. Hemp milk is awesome and there are some absolutely gorgeous oat and coconut/almond milks available widely. Take your breakfast cereal to the next level!

Learn more about EU agriculture, live export cruelty and GHG emissions from livestock…

Read the full report on the Guardian here.

Read more about the EU budget here.

Read more about Ireland’s GHG emissions from agriculture on the Irish Times here.

Cow photo, creative commons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovine_somatotropin

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Top 5 ways to save the European Union

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Europe is fucked

The importance of the upcoming European Parliament elections from 23 – 26 May 2019 can’t be overstated. Brexit has turned everybody off the conversation about Europe, and caused years of policy paralysis. We should have been making things better for Europe’s citizens, but our unelected EU ‘leaders’ have shown poor leadership abilities, while the fascists have risen on Europe’s right flank. Time for action, and fast. Here are 5 quick wins for Europe, to make the EU relevant, inspiring and useful…

Let’s make the EU more democratic

The names Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have never appeared on a ballot paper, yet they seem to be running the EU. Why? What is the point of the European Parliament? Why should we bother to vote in May? The EU needs to answer these questions, and urgently. And don’t say ‘The information is there if you look for it.’ It’s up to the EU to communicate to its citizens why it works as it does, how it’s changing to reflect the views of the populace, and what a more democratic European Union will look like.

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Let’s build the European Union of Hemp

The United States is leading the way, with the recent legalisation of industrial hemp, added to many states’ embrace of the medicinal and recreational potential of hemp’s sister, cannabis. This is very positive and very welcome. Europe needs to look to America to appreciate the potential of hemp for reducing climate change, for displacing multiple harmful products, for medical treatments and for a safer alternative to alcohol. By legalizing hemp and cannabis at federal EU level, individual member states can develop policies under the protection of the EU.

Let’s make Europe lead the fight against climate change

Hemp is one powerful tool that Europe can deploy to stop climate change. Let’s go further with some big EU ideas. We must tackle livestock subsidies, and stop funding animal production of greenhouse gases. We must ensure that our fisheries become sustainable sources of protein for Europe. We should set a date for banning diesel cars in the EU, embrace and develop the next generation of electric/hydrogen vehicles. We need to ensure commercial aviation cuts its emissions, while expanding fast rail and other less harmful ways to travel within Europe. A rail tunnel from Ireland to France would be awesome. Why can’t we dream big and inspire the next generation?

Let’s ban monarchies, make Europe abide by the ideals of equality and liberty

One good thing about the UK’s departure from the EU is that the EU will then have one less monarchy. It’s pretty disgusting to realise that there will still be six: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. Europe needs to enforce liberal, republican ideals both at high level and at individual member state level. There is no place for monarchies in 21st century Europe. Let’s work to abolish all monarchies within the European Union.

Let’s tell the European story better

Let’s face it, Europe rocks! The European Union has prevented World War 3 by fostering cooperation and fraternity among nations and peoples. We have incredible art and culture, fabulous cities, incredible food and drink, and the jewel of the Mediterranean and all that it has inspired, from Greek democracy to the artists of Spain. We have skiing in the Alps and a surfer’s paradise on the west coast of Ireland. We have Airbus and BMW, Stripe and Mytaxi, GDPR and the Eurovision. The world’s happiest country – Finland – is part of the EU, so why can’t we learn from them and use their strategies across the European Union?

We can and should build a fabulous future for the people of Europe and the world. Europe has been a shining beacon – reflecting what is best about humanity – at many times in her past. We can and must aspire to again being that beacon. We must get past Brexit quickly, so we can again be proud of what we have achieved. And we should make it clear to everyone that the best is yet to come.

Get out and vote in the European Parliament election, May 2019. Cast your vote for the parties that will work to deliver on these ideals.


Image credits/learn more

Flag of the EU, altered for this article under artistic license: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Europe.svg

Interestingly, the 12-starred flag has never been officially adopted as the flag of the EU. Rather, it was kind of inherited from the EC. The flag also represents the quite separate Council of Europe, which has 47 member states including Russia and Turkey. Go figure.

Read more about the 2019 EU Parliament elections on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_European_Parliament_election

World’s happiest countries, 2019 (CNN report on UN findings): https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/worlds-happiest-countries-united-nations-2019/index.html


Get your European Union of Hemp t-shirt here. Every sale means a hemp plant grown and CO2 removed from the atmosphere.

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Read a thriller and save the world

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Buy a book and help save the world

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Hi, my name is Gary J Byrnes, and I am the founder of Readathriller.com. My thrillers are global bestsellers and cover topics from 9/11 to Nazis, and much in between. I’m currently working on a thriller about a pilot who’s scared of flying, and who is driven to rewrite the history of humankind. My stories have topped Amazon and iTunes book charts, and are popular everywhere, channel links below.

While my new novel is coming together, I make a commitment that for every sale of every one of my published works (both print-on-demand and ebooks) this platform will commit to planting a hemp plant. The hemp plant will absorb CO2, and help to pull us back from the brink of the 2 degrees Celsius tipping point. The hemp will be harvested and processed into sustainable products. It’s all about building out this story, the story that can save the world.

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Please share this word on your social channels and pick up one of my books from your favourite retail channel. Then sit back and enjoy a Gary J Byrnes thriller, knowing that you are saving the world. You are a hero. Let’s do this!


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Gary J Byrnes books are available from these and many more channels:

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Climate strike Dublin, 15 March 2019

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There is no planet B

Some of the 10,000-strong crowd, gathered outside Ireland’s parliament, 15 March 2019. Source: Irish Times video report.

When Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg decided that she couldn’t wait for the adults to take climate change for the existential threat that it is, and started a school strike to draw attention to the issue, did she imagine the scale of what would come? It was a truly impressive butterfly effect to see schools across Ireland close early so that 10,000 students of all ages could converge on the houses of parliament in Dublin, with dozens more protests across the country.

Mylie Rose Byrnes, age 9, gives two thumbs up to the protest.

System change not climate change

In time with a deep drumbeat, the good-natured crowd marched in spring sunshine, from St Stephen’s Green, down Dawson St, and took over all of Molesworth St in front of the Dail, Ireland’s houses of parliament (yes, we kept the British colonial structure after independence in 1921). The placards were many, with some catchy slogans used again and again: There is no planet B. System change not climate change. Even this: F$ck climate change.

The students have called on the Irish Government to declare a climate emergency and have issued a list of six demands to lawmakers:

  1. A transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and a pledge to leave all Irish fossil fuels in the ground.
  2. A climate emergency declaration – including a national information campaign.
  3. A socially fair transition to a carbon-neutral society, preventing need for regular citizens to carry the economic burden.
  4. Immediate implementation of all the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change.
  5. Stronger regulations on corporations that are causing the climate crisis.
  6. The implementation of a Green New Deal that ensures all young school leavers can have livelihoods that don’t damage the planet.

This seems like a reasonable start.


Learn more

Irish Times report on the Dublin event, including video: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/thousands-of-students-in-ireland-join-international-climate-change-protests-1.3827629

Wikipedia article on the movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_strike_for_climate

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