Industrial farming is a catastrophe leading to biodiversity loss. But going vegan will not save the world, since a world without cows or grazing cattles in general would be a catastrope as well.

Mass animal husbandry is a catastrophe in many ways, also regarding biodiversity loss. But going vegetarian or even vegan will not save the world, since a world without cows or grazing cattles in general would be a catastrope as well. These ruminants, which are the only animals capable of digesting grass efficiently, are at the core of biodiversity. A cow pie is a unique ecosystem in its own, feeding worms, beetles and flies – which then are eaten by birds, as well as restoring soil. I show here a governance, from global to local, on how to raise biodiversity and lowering tax evasion, putting the cow on the center stage.


Propably the most shocking scientific paper this year was published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution: „Tax havens and global environmental degradation“. Tax evasion through offshore accounts is a common practice, as we know since the release of the Paradise and the Panama Papers and is one of the main causes for poverty (SDG 1). But the authors of the study asked the other relevant question: where does that money flow out to from the offshore accounts?

They show « that 70% of the known vessels implicated in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing are, or have been, flagged under a tax haven jurisdiction ». Furthermore, they found, « that between October 2000 and August 2011, 68% of all investigated foreign capital to nine focal companies in the soy and beef sectors in the Brazilian Amazon was transferred through one, or several, known tax havens ».

Tax evasion thus can be directly linked to massive biodiversity losses on land (SDG 15) and below water (SDG 14). Deforestation for beef and soy production is an iconic picture for biodiversity loss.

Meanwhile in Switzerland, biodiversity loss is as dramatic, but not as visible. And beef production is also in the middle of it. For one, we import soy as cattle feed. For another, we grow grass, mow it and feed cattle with it, creating green deserts, since we do not allow cows to graze this grass directly.

Swiss farmers cultivate about 1 million hectares of land, loosing 1.1 m2 per second of it. 80% of it are used as meadows and pastures. Pastures are grazed by cattle, while meadows typically are mowed to be fed to cattle. A big portion of this area is used for artifical meadows, which are mowed up to six times per year. This intensification is a main reason for biodiversity loss leading to monocultures of grass species. As with any monoculture this means that they are more vulnurable to stress, e.g. drought, as shown this summer, and need huge amounts of fertilizers.

Switzerland also faces the problem of loosing arable land to forests. While this seems to be a good idea to sequester CO2 and thus help fight climate change (SDG 13), it also means a further reduction of biodiversity.

A recent study has actually shown, that CO2 sequestration is most efficient by putting it into soil. Many cattle grazing projects around the globe, involving bisons, cows, goats and sheeps, show the benefit of this extensve form of agriculture, especially on biodiversity gain, restoring soil quality and capturing CO2.

The governance to be developped needs :

  • On a global level : stop tax evasion in all forms and animal mass production (incl. overfishing) using the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDG’s) as the lever to enforce action. Establish in all countries « ministries of SDG’s » which oversees all action required to meet the goals and empower them with a right to veto against any decision which conflict the SDG’s.
  • On a foreign policy level : establish trading agreements which favor meat produced by grazing cattle and who have a « ministry of SDG’s » in place.
  • On a national level : move agriculture policies to support grazing of cattle on natural pasture away from artificial meadows as feed stock (see existin program « Raus ») and fund more mixed cultures as practiced by permaculture and agroecological methods. In the long term these farms will not only be more resilient, but also more productive and hence profitable, becoming independant of direct payments.
    Establish a « ministry of SDG’s » which interacts on a international and national level of other « ministries of SDG’s »
  • On a local level : Establis a position responsible for the SDG’s. Promote local agriculture, especially when cattles are grazing, as well as any form of gardening, from kindergarten to official commons.
    Establish a « ministry of SDG’s » which interacts on a national level of other « ministries of SDG’s ».

If we (co-authors wanted) set up this governance and policies, we will have an impact not only on biodiversity, but also on the following SDG’s :

1. No Poverty

2. No Hunger

3. Good Wealth and Well-Being

4. Quality Education

5. Gender Equality

6. Clean Water and Sanitation

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

11. Sustainable Cities and Economies

12. Responsible Production and Consumption

13. Climate Action

14. Life Below Water

15. Life on Land

16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

17. Partnerships for the Goals

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