Despite the increasing recognition of the role that meat and dairy play in climate change, and despite all the problems that the U.S. model of animal agriculture has caused for the environment and human health, Obama's Asia tour this week has had an uncomfortably large focus on exporting beef, chicken and dairy.
If several Congressmen, including Senator Max Baucus and Representative Dave Camp, had gotten their way, the trade deal that Obama was trying to agree on with South Korea would have eliminated trade barriers in South Korea to U.S. beef.
Beef imports have been restricted since the U.S.' first discovered case of mad cow disease in 2003-protests broke out en masse when President Lee tried to ease those restrictions in 2008, and although the country is the third-largest export market for U.S. beef, according to Bloomberg, that's just not enough.
As if there aren't enough problems in the U.S. (and around the world) because of meat production and factory farms, now the U.S. apparently needs to focus on increasing its beef exports to a country that clearly doesn't want them.
Things weren't much better earlier on in Obama's tour, either. Brighter Green has highlighted the environmentally and cultural irresponsibility of U.S. efforts to promote cheese, chicken, and pork in India. Aside from the environmental implications of increasing demand for industrialized dairy production, most of the cheese produced in the U.S. contains rennet, an animal-derived enzyme that is not traditionally a component of cheese in (largely vegetarian) India. And naturally-vegetarian cows are frequently not fed a vegetarian diet in the U.S.-both of which pose problems for vegetarians, particularly in India, where people traditionally are more conscious than anywhere else of how cows are treated and how their dairy is produced.
Not violating cultural values and not sparking violent protests by people who want to keep their food supply safe don't seem like standards that should be so difficult to meet. Why's it so hard for the U.S. to play fair?