The Month in a Minute: April 2024

April's top stories about climate, animals and health.

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April saw more farmer protests in Europe against government efforts to protect biodiversity, just as officials warn the EU green deal will be at risk if far-right leaders sweep parliamentary elections. Despite recent successes, deforestation in the Amazon has again spiked in the first three months of 2024. And, experts fear chicken waste fed to cattle could be the source of the bird flu outbreak in dairy cattle.

Plus, top lobbyists for the meat industry celebrated the “positive outcome” of COP28, as initiatives failed to set binding targets, or broach the question of reducing herds of ruminant livestock.


Marine biologist Helen Scales had seen octopuses before – but she had never had a meeting quite like this one.

Many of the thrilling animal photos on your social media feeds are taken at game farms — places insiders say are the exotic equivalent of puppy mills.

Land grant universities whose research supports the beef industry are funded in part by land stolen from Indigenous tribes.

Marine sanctuaries are a critical yet costly solution to the problem of what to do with the dolphins and whales housed at marine parks poised to shutter.

Here are more headlines that caught our attention this month:


Environmental and animal welfare groups call on the World Bank to phase out financial support for ‘industrial’ livestock operations.

Despite industry claims, cows are suffering on even the most “humane” dairy farms.

Many of India’s more than 4 million fishers are sailing beyond the country’s exclusive economic zone into the high seas in search of a better catch.

A new report documents the banking industry’s investments in the meat and dairy industry, and its climate pollution.

Your taxes fund an obscure government program that kills millions of wild animals to benefit ‘Big Ag’.

Big poultry farms have received millions of dollars for their losses. Animal welfare groups contend that aid reinforces inhumane cullings of birds exposed to the virus.


A highly misleading new documentary, Six inches of Soil, claims soil carbon storage can redeem the livestock industry – it’s all so much “moo-woo.”

A study released at Cop28 misused research to underestimate impact of cutting meat eating, say academics.

The Colorado River has been overused for decades. New research offers first-of-its-kind insight into how cities, farms and more use its water, revealing the heavy demands of animal agriculture.

80 percent of Welsh dairy farms were found breaching pollution regulations, with 69 percent of English dairy farms, 60 percent in Scotland and 50 percent in Northern Ireland.

In the wake of deforestation some creatures are turning to bat feces for food, shedding light on how new viruses might spread from animals to humans, researchers say.

As diplomats search for a deal to curb the world’s growing problem of plastic, piles of bottles, buoys, nets and packaging keep building up in the Galapagos, a place that should be a pristine environment.


Cal-Maine Foods says 1.6 million laying hens were destroyed as officials detect avian flu in a poultry facility in Michigan. In Texas, the company temporarily shutdown operations due to the disease.

Are growing rates of anxiety, depression, ADHD, PTSD, Alzheimer’s and motor neurone disease linked to rising temperatures and other extreme environmental changes?

H5N1 has infected cattle across the U.S., and jumped from a mammal to a human for the first time. Experts fear it may someday evolve to spread among humans.

Experts warn that lax regulations could cause avian flu’s spread to U.S. pig farms, with serious consequences for human health.

Industrial meat and dairy have us trapped in an infectious disease cycle, some experts warn.

Acidifying oceans are leading to sensory loss in fish. Scientists fear people might be next.

Law & Justice

Animal rights activists have sued Colorado State University for violating open records laws. The lawsuit centers around the university’s failure to supply videos from research conducted on cattle at a slaughterhouse.

More than 100 years after Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle exposed the horrors of working in a slaughterhouse, workers are still clamoring for more humane conditions.

Conservation groups say a significant jump in by-kills is damning for the fishing industry, but Fisheries Minister Shane Jones is dismissing “green politburo banshees.”

A French court has suspended legislation that would have prevented plant-based foods from using the word “steak” on labels.

Political disagreements on sustainability and climate action damage prospects for needed changes in food production.

Future of Food

Existing food production destroys more value than it creates due to medical and environmental costs, some researchers say.

Some scientists suggest turning to pythons as a protein source. However, the snakes are environmentally destructive, dangerous for farmers to be around and often subjected to cruel treatment.

Organic agriculture has become synonymous with spreading manure. Veganic farming is cultivating a greener path.

As climate challenges increase, it’s time to assess the cost and opportunity of building a resilient food system — and how we get there.

One popular defense of a meat-heavy diet is the “crop death” argument, but does the evidence actually stack up?

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