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Constantinides Calls on NYC to Divest From Agricultural Companies Linked to Climate Change

Photo By: Jenny Hill 

Nov. 18, 2019 By Michael Dorgan

Astoria Council member Costa Constantinides has called on New York City to boycott agricultural companies responsible for accelerating climate change.

Constantinides, who is Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, sponsored a groundbreaking resolution Thursday which, if passed, would call on City agencies and the private sector to cut ties with food companies “that benefit from deforestation and the acceleration of global warming.”

The resolution, prompted by the forest fires that have ravaged the Amazon rainforest, notes that the cattle ranchers often use fire to clear land for grazing cattle.

The resolution was introduced in conjunction with a similar motion by Los Angeles City Council and rallies were held in both cities calling for changes in behaviors and policies which contribute to this “existential threat.”

“Climate change is a challenge to our future that isn’t going away. That shouldn’t preclude us, however, from taking a bold stance against deforestation, which only accelerates the effects of this man-made phenomenon,” said Constantinides.

“We are facing a climate emergency, and we can’t continue business as usual while the planet burns,” Constantinides said.

“Just as the loss of trees in the Amazon can exacerbate climate change in New York City or Los Angeles, we can make real change by taking a first stance against businesses whose practices have sparked these wildfires,” added Constantinides.

Advocates for the resolution call on New Yorkers to reduce the amount of meat, dairy, and eggs they consume. They also called out JBS and Cargill for profiting from rainforest wildfires.

An uptick in meat demands has spurred South American cattle ranchers to clear more of the Amazon for grazing and as a result forest fires in the region have increased more than 80 percent since last year, putting vital resources and lives at risk, Constantinides said.

The Amazon rainforest plays a vital role in absorbing carbon dioxide emissions and critics argue that without them, those emissions are left to exacerbate climate change.

Deforestation is continuing at rapid rate as global beef demand increases by about 5 percent per year, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

This drains the planet’s limited resources as it takes an average 300 square feet of land and more than 200 gallons of water to create a single pound of beef.

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22 Comments

gil

I like that this bill has been introduced to City Council. Climate change is real and we must think globally and act locally. I want to believe Constantinides is sincere, he is the Chair for the Enviro Committee after all! But this is more complex of an issue than demonizing meat and dairy. Soya, corn and other crops grown with GMO seeds and/or in monoculture fields are also destructive to the ecosystems they are grown in. Factory farms in the US pollute the land and water. But biointensive and agro-ecology farming practices, many of which responsibly incorporate livestock, can actually sustain, and even regenerate healthy soils. The living soil foodweb is humans most effective means of closing the carbon cycle sequestering greenhouse gasses while building a carbon sink/storage for future food growth. Some, in fact many Afro-ecological farming systems rely on fire to sculpt the land, prepare seeds and thin understory growth. These are controlled burns and very different from what is happening in the rainforest. Demonizing fire, meat and dairy is a shortsighted view on this issue and does not consider the deeper uses of these or address the root of the problem. So no this “bold” bill is not radical at all. I hate to say it but the commenter that is claiming that this is eco-facism may have a grain of truth. But I’d rather believe that as a politician in NYC, Constantinides just isn’t familiar with the science or agricultural techniques he is trying to make laws about, which can be problematic, but can be better than inaction as long as more research can be included and the bill can actually be revised to be more positively impactful. Don’t think of banning meat and dairy from school cafeterias and municipal cafes, but instead imagine the city only purchasing responsibly grown and sourced meat, dairy and produce. With a little more scientific rigor, a few tweaks to this policy, NYC could become the larges procurement contract for regenerative farmers and ranchers.

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David Michel

Gil, i think you need to educate yourself more…Constantinides is certainly more familiar than you with what he is talking about. The Animal Agriculture fascism, cruelty, pollutuon and corruption are sucking up our tax money through subsidies that should be immidiately cut off and used for example to promote healthy non gmo plant agriculture. 70% of the crops in the US are dedicated to growing feed for the US animal agricutlure. Its obviously mostly GMOed and therefore is having a terrible impact on the future of our soil etc. The methane emissions are 30 to 80 times the global warming power of CO2. The Animal agriculture and the crops grown to feed it are responsible for the deadzones in our Oceans.. so outside of the incredible animal cruelty, the polluting of the air in working families communities, the enrionemental degradation it causes, needs to stop. Then you have the lack of education regarding health which I will not into. I suggest you watch Cowspiracy, Game Changers, Forks Over Knives, Racing Extinction..etc.. Before you critisize the critical and realistic minds and call them fascist, think of thebaay animals are treated in farms, the abusive subsidies thay could be used to help us plunge into a new world, w compassion, and cleaner and safer for our children…

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gil

Thanks David, While I have already seen all the movies you mentioned and I don’t take kindly to folks telling me what I do and don’t know, I agree with most of your points. I agree that the US govt. should stop subsidizing terrible farming practices. Unfortunately, we are not talking about the farm bill here and Costa is not in a position to influence that federal legislature (this tells me you need to educate yourself more). That said, this local bill, I’d made law, could influence the larger conversation about agriculture, in preparation for that, I find this bill lacking. The local NYC bill we are discussing has to do with NYC agencies purchasing power and the choices they make about food procurement.
I refuse to accept that the constructive criticism I offered should be kept to myself. Dialogue between lawmakers and informed constituents is the foundation of a healthy Democracy. Anyone that has a problem with this dialogue and criticism, is by definition undemocratic (this attitude is a slippery slope towards fascism BTW). To be clear, I want this bill to be passed, I just see shortcomings in the bill and would like it to be strengthened. I’m also not calling Costa an eco-fascist, I’m saying others have already done so on this thread and if he wants to address that head on, a public discussion about the bill is necessary. What I’m pointing out is that the bill misses the mark and can be much stronger and affect more change. I hope the bill can be strengthened before it is killed. If you want to tell me I am uninformed, please address my points instead of pointing towards outside sources. If you want to dialogue about this, tell me why I’m wrong about the indigenous use of controlled fire and the practices of soil regeneration. Otherwise, I find it difficult to reply to your laundry list of documentaries. You mentioned GMOs being a problem, but the article and the bill don’t mention GMOs at all. I don’t think I understand your argument and I wonder if you even have an arguement?

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gil

While I still have yet to find the actual bill to read the introduced language (I’m trying to further educate myself), this press release is more useful than the Astoria Post article (can reporters writing about introduced legislation just link to the bill?!) https://www.brooklyn-usa.org/bp-adams-cm-constantinides-introduce-resolution-calling-on-nyc-to-end-business-with-meat-companies-linked-to-amazon-fires/
It seems this bill is just a NYC purchasing boycott of Cargill and JBS, which I support. And I think we could do even more. Some baseline suggestions would be for NYC to boycott all GMO food, unsustainably grown/harvested palm oil, and make a goal of purchasing meat from sustainable livestock farmers in the tru-state area.

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eileen

Did you not see how many gallons of water it takes to make one pound of beef. It is an environmental disaster. How much of our oxygen is going up in smoke? We have to care about the earth. It is the only one we have and is being destroyed.

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taking a "bold" stance

whenever a progressive says the word “bold” they mean “radical”….as a City Council member maybe you should worry more about your district instead of the Amazon rain-forest….I am gonna keep getting the feta in my omelette in the morning….Thank you goats everywhere..

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Sue

Wow, thank you for taking this seriously, we only have one planet and we are killing it to produce meat and dairy. The Amazon holds the lungs of the earth, and it’s being burned down for animal agriculture. I’m glad to see he has made the connection and is being a leader on this urgent, urgent issue. We have to stop eating animals or at least greatly reduce our consumption of them.

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Bill

Umm? If memory serves me correctly, Constantinides is a city Councilman. As such, his primary responsibility is to residents of the district he represents.

Yes, we all should be concerned about climate change, but the question is about priorities for a city councilman.

His resolution, if passed, would do little in the scheme of the big picture. Indeed, it is simply a waste of time. This is a national issue, not local. Instead of focusing on passing resolutions that will ultimately have absolutely no impact on the folks here in Astoria, he should focus on issues that will have immediate impact on those he represents. Yes, grandstanding will gain headlines, but more important are issues like safety, street repair, local education, local environmental issues and all the rest.

Mr. Constantinidis, until you are elected to Congress, it is your constituents who should be your primary focus!

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eileen

We all have to breath. The Amazon is being burned for beef and the planting of palm to make palm oil. Is it really necessary to burn down the Amazon for this. Sure we can breath now but what about the future when so many things are being impacted by the greed of man. We have to start with the Amazon. It is there for a reason. Maybe this will spur others with more authority over such things to follow. How can anyone believe this is not important to all of us and future generations.

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Jenastoriat

It’s a local issue. Remember Sandy. There’s more high water to come. Not to mention the ethical and moral responsibility each and everyone of us has for the planet and its residents.

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Oscar

Understand where Costas is coming from. He is head of the environmental committee. He is using this very aggressively to get his name out there since the bottom line is that he needs to be borough president, otherwise he is out of a job. He learned very quickly how to use the media and his platform to make himself known. This is all a big smokescreen. He learned alot from Danny Dromm one of the biggest opportunists out there. So don’t be fooled by this blowhard.

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David Michel

Bill, 71 to 76% of the NET CO2 emissions come from Urban centers around the planet. The fight starts in cities.. please people, when commenting, try to educate yourselves on the subject. The climate action summit was quote clear on the figures..and there global circles of mayors who have been changing their cities to stop their contributions to clinate change.

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Bill

David,
Statistics say that 27.51 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions originate in China. Here’s the bigger problem. How is the NYC Council going to enforce this? Who’s going to determine which companies should be banned? How will the City Council enforce this in the private sector? Finally, who is going to pay for this extra level of bureaucracy? This is the kind of issue that needs to be resolved on a national, not city, scale.

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Dave the Wave

David is right, and it starts at home..good luck with telling other countries how to do their part.. some will some will not.. the Chinese were at the Climate Action Summit so they were listening and taking notes.. We are in the top 3 polluters on the planet, responsible for close to 15% of worldwide GHGs, we have our own problems at home, and a large part of this is from the Animal agriculture..and urban centers are responsible for at least 70% of our net emissions.. We need urban centers to inventory their contributions to know where to mitigate compensate and what not. We will find that food is also a large part..it starts from the bottom up.. It s easy to point fngers at the worst country of the plannet when we are number two..just not very useful to point fingers.

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Enrique

The next step for these fascists is to ban people from eating meat and drinking milk and so on. But watch I bet these politicians and elite will still consume meat and milk.

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Dave the Wave

hm what is fascist.. to shove a fist up a cow to inseminate her..to make bisiness out of the milk for a calf to grow a couple of tons in a few weeks..? or cutting off this cruel polluting and unhealthy industry? is it fascist to educate people with knowledge thats recently acquired when people that write what you write are clearly clueless with what is destroying our planet amd children s future? is it not courageous to admit our faults and get better rather than staying very conservatively in a comfortable posituon that causes destruction.. i really wonder if you guys even understand what you are writing.. just politically idiotic comments.

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VVNY

The do-nothing politicians love global warming because you can do so many things in the name of addressing the global warming (not denying it exists) without making much effort, except for speaking and writing of course. The hardest for the elected politicians to do would be to improve lives of their constituents. But yeah fires in Amazon and people’s non-vegetarian diet that’s what Constantinides was elected to condone. Easier to blame people’s diet than actually improving their diets.

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Michelle

no proof that their policies even work.
more degenerate crap from socialist idiots who don’t understand how they are being used to further our enemies agenda

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Dave the Wave

ignoring a cleaner future for your political hate and discomfort is far from showing any intelligence.

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