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Goldman Sachs Linked to Animal Cruelty and Fast Food Giant Burger King

May 25, 2010

It should come as no surprise that the unscrupulous leaders of Goldman Sachs try to wiggle out of corporate responsibility are endangering animals somewhere, and really is anyone surprised?  Goldman Sachs has bought shares of international agribusiness = factory farming and Burger King, which has been criticized for paying poverty wages:

the white shoe investment bank and securities firm has, in recent years, entered the messy world of global agribusiness.

That’s right: Goldman Sachs is in the business of factory farming. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised: in the late 18th century, the area around Wall Street housed slaughterhouses and tanneries. The word capitalism itself is rooted in the trade of (live)stock measured by head (Latin: capita) of cattle. Nonetheless, the parallels between the killings made on Wall Street then and now are not only eerie, but consequential. Just as the securitized debt deals Goldman was hawking may be, in Warren Buffett’s words, “financial weapons of mass destruction,” putting the whole economic system at risk of collapse, factory farming carries a parallel risk — of environmental destruction and exploitation of resources, prospects for food security, and animals, all on a mass scale.

Unfortunately, the Senate inquiry into Goldman’s alleged malfeasance is unlikely to question why the company in 2008 decided to acquire ten intensive poultry farms in China’s Hunan and Fujian provinces for $300 million. While Goldman isn’t running the farms itself (that’s outsourced) it retains control over the prices. “So for the record, that’s: U.S. mortgages = bad . . . Asian livestock = good,” is how the website Business Insider described the deal.

This isn’t the firm’s first foray into this arena. Goldman is also principal owner of Burger King, joining Bain and Texas Pacific in 2002 in a $2.26 billion takeover of the fast food giant. Labor activists have criticized Goldman for the poverty wages earned by full-time Burger King workers…

Asian livestock?  Like the Asian livestock formerly associated with bird flu?  Maybe Asian livestock associated with massive slaughterhouses?

Huffington Post article writer Mia MacDonald asks the question of whether or not the US bail-out of the Goldman Sach’s disastrous financial schemes now means that our tax dollars are supporting animal cruelty and environmental pollution on a large scale, well as big as China:

According to Wu Weixiang, an associate professor at China’s Zhejiang University’s Agriculture College, “Domestic animal and poultry waste has become a major source of environmental pollution.” Indeed, China’s billions of farmed animals produce an estimated 2.7 billion tons of manure a year–three-and-a-half times industrial solid waste levels–and runoff from livestock facilities has led to a significant “dead zone” in the South China Sea, akin to that in the Gulf of Mexico, which is also the result of agriculture.

The poultry deal also contradicts a Goldman business principle. “Our responsibility for environmental stewardship does not fluctuate with changing economic conditions,” the firm’s 2008 Environmental Report states. “We hope our work continues to inspire action and creative market-based solutions that can help our environment endure and thrive.

Only three percent of China’s large and medium-sized livestock operations have facilities to treat animal wastes, according to Xu Cheng, a professor at China Agricultural University. Do Goldman’s?

Just a year and a half ago, Goldman was kept afloat by billions of dollars in U.S. government funds. Does that mean U.S. taxpayer dollars subsidized cruel, polluting, climate-heating factory farms in China? Even if the connection isn’t direct, what are we to make of an elite private equity firm like Goldman helping expand industrial-scale animal facilities?

While Goldman Sachs plays to the concept of environmental protection with pathetic little quotations of oft-ignored pandering on its website, Goldman’s actions certainly speak louder than its words.

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