148588 tn?1465778809

Big Food Feels Threat Of Climate Change


" ..... Most farmers can't really see the the big global patterns of climate change, and certainly can't change what's happening.

But big multinational companies can see it, because they buy shiploads of farm products from all over the world.

Take, for example, Mars, Inc., maker of Mars bars, M&M's, Snickers, Skittles and more.

"[Climate change is] absolutely a threat," says Barry Parkin, the company's chief sustainability officer, referring to climate change. "And that's why we're doing all that we're doing today."

A key ingredient in the company's most tempting products, of course, is chocolate. This comes from cocoa trees, most of them in West Africa, where the climate is hot and humid. But Parkin says it may not stay that way. "Most of the models will say that it's going to get dryer in West Africa, and that's not good for cocoa," he says. And cocoa is just one of the 100 or so agricultural commodities that Mars needs for its food and pet food products.

Parkin is confident that his company will be able to get those ingredients, somewhere. "I'm less worried about that," he says. "We will find most of the crops we need to find. Maybe in different places. I'm more concerned about the farmers," such as those who depend on the cocoa harvest.

According to Parkin, Mars is looking for ways to help those farmers get through this. The strategy, he says, is to help those farmers become more productive. Mars is providing better cocoa trees, fertilizer, and training. It puts money in the farmers' pockets, "and that gives them a level of resiliency. No longer does one bad harvest cripple them," he says.

That's the part of the company's strategy that's aimed at getting ready for a changing climate, and adapting to it.

But because Mars is so aware that this is costly and painful, it's also trying to keep the situation from getting worse.

That starts with reducing the company's own greenhouse gas emissions. "We set our first goals in 2009, for what we needed to do as a company to reduce our impact on the planet," Parkin says.

According to Parkin, Mars has cut its emissions of climate warming gases by 25 percent compared to eight years ago. It's planning to be carbon neutral — not contributing to the warming of the climate at all — by 2040.

And last month, Mars joined with nine other global food companies, including General Mills, Unilever and Nestle, who released a letter calling climate change a threat to the world's food supply. The food giants endorsed steps that would limit the planet's temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius. (Since then, the total number of companies who've signed on has grown to 14.)

According to Anne Kelly, a senior program director at Ceres, the letter has drawn together a wide range of companies.

"Some of these are major companies in Republican states and they're standing up and saying we need a strong deal," Kelly says. "This has never happened before."

She also points to the logo Ceres created for the letter, which shows fossil fuels underground and windmills on the surface.

Parkin of Mars says the food industry will be instrumental in fighting climate change. "What those companies are doing is coming together to encourage governments, basically saying to government, 'We need you to make similar commitments,' " he says.

Mars will also have representatives at the global talks in Paris, lobbying for an agreement to put the brakes on a warming climate. It's an effort to protect their own supplies of raw materials — and the lives of small cocoa farmers in West Africa.

Jonathan Mudd, a spokesman for Mars, says that the company plans to share its experience cutting carbon emissions in Paris, and try to "drive for some meaningful change, a meaningful outcome to the conference."
4 Responses
Sort by: Helpful Oldest Newest
Avatar universal
Why does NASA numbers not back up climate change?
Helpful - 0
148588 tn?1465778809
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
On a semi related note, government is doing what it can to run small farmers out of business.


Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Helpful - 0
You must join this user group in order to participate in this discussion.

You are reading content posted in the Current Events . . . Group

Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Herpes sores blister, then burst, scab and heal.
Herpes spreads by oral, vaginal and anal sex.
STIs are the most common cause of genital sores.
Condoms are the most effective way to prevent HIV and STDs.
PrEP is used by people with high risk to prevent HIV infection.
Can I get HIV from surfaces, like toilet seats?