Poster: Meat Or Threat

Biodiversity is defined as the degree of variation of life forms within a certain ecosystem, and it is a measure of the health of the planet. Natural climate changes slowly enough to let the species adapt through migrations or evolution; on the contrary, artificial climate change inducted by pollution and wrong land management, together with severe exploitation of certain species, is modifying habitats at an excessively fast pace, severely hindering natural adaptation and life cycles.
Among the Countries, the so-called “megadiverse” ones harbor the majority of Earth’s species, and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse; we chose to compare four of them to highlight which human activities exert the greatest impact.Monoculture and intensive farming exert a key role in threatening biodiversity, as these activities are replacing local natural richness with few selected species of plants and animals that are advantageous for economic purposes.
We focused on Brazil because it is the world’s most biodiverse country, hosting the largest forest in the world, the Amazon rainforest.
In the center of the poster we represented the dynamics behind the brazilian biodiversity loss and the main actors involved in the Amazon and Cerrado destruction, the two most important brazilian biomes.
The main culprit has to be found in corporations’ demand for fields, as it forces local farmers in debt with them to burn portions of the surrounding landscape to gain room for livestock, pastures and cultivation. Fields are shortly after used to host soybean monocultures, the purpose of which isn’t to feed human, but farmed animals.
The whole process results not only in a high deforestation rate, but also into water and soil pollution, caused by pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and manure released into the environment.
Few multinationals companies, handling the monopoly of food production, own most of the fields where deforestation has already taken place. Government that should fight land exploitation actually funds multinational companies to invest in brazilian market, as well as building infrastructures to facilitate the transport of their goods.
Unaware consumers act as the ending point of the whole cycle: meat overproduction has turned Brazil into a country where half of the people are overweight.

Meat or threat?

Report: The Palm Pattern

Intensive land exploitation exerted by big corporations converts the variety of species hosted by rainforests into monocultures, where only one non-native specie survives; the most obvious example is given by the Amazon deforestation in Brazil.
Still, public controversies around soy and meat consumption involve a wide array of topics, ranging from global starvation to healthy diets.
We focused on palm oil monoculture, as it is the main responsible of indonesian rainforest destruction. It is possible to find many similarities between the two case studies: both take place in developing Countries, and are caused by the same leading actors, whose products lead to unhappy consequences often hidden very carefully and thus not really known by most of their consumers.
Palm oil is used for the 70% in food products, such as cookies, chips, chocolates, baked goods and such; actually almost 50% of packaged food contains palm oil.
It also can be found in cosmetics, soaps, cleaning agents and body products and lately also as bio-fuel.
Malaysia and Indonesia are accounted for covering together 80% of global palm oil production; while stable in the first, a great increment in quantities was registered in the last years. This has resulted both in a higher deforestation rate and in the third placement in GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions rank by Country, according to Greenpeace.
Indonesia is the third most biodiverse country in the world, where the growing monocultures of palm oil are threatening a great number of species, including orangutans, one of the four hominid species left on the Earth.
Our work explored the web controversy around the topic, collecting the most relevant webpages obtained from “palm oil”-related queries and connecting those with the software Navicrawler. Relations and players were eventually visualized in the form of a map using Gephi,
We tried to understand the position of all actors, both by exploring their content, both via semantic analysis made with Alchemy API.
The report collects 8 categories of actors:
Companies, authorities, environmentalists, consumers, socio-economic organizations, zoos, scientists and press.
For each one of those, information is given about connections, most recurring words, geolocalization and position on the map.

Video: Lost in Plantations

Palm oil is an ingredient contained in lots of everyday life products, oftenly hidden on the labels; its production is accounted as the main culprit for the destruction of indonesian rainforests, resulting into a complex net of accuses and debates.
Data have been collected through a research with Digital Methods, taking into account the most relevant webpages and their links and displaying them through a map, which was then used as the starting point to analyze the position and the role of the main actors.
The whole phenomenon was depicted through a fictional story, which asks the consumer/viewer to actively take a position.
We chose the animal point of view: five endangered mammals explored the map into a methaforical journey that represent the quest for the Truth. Involved actors become building, trees or flowers, generating landscapes enhancing natural beauty or denouncing bad anthropization.
We gave voice to the statements of famous environmentalists such as Greenpeace and WWF, as well as to the ambiguous positions of the main palm oil certification body (RSPO), and to the roles of great multinationals companies, international authorities, science and malaysian government.


Slaughtering the Amazon (Greenpeace Report)
Eating up the Amazon (Greenpeace Report)
World Bank, World Development Indicators
United States Department of Agriculture

Rainforest Action Networl
Roundtable on Soustainable Palm Oil
Malaysian Palm Oil Board
Palm Oil Truth Foundation
Biofuel Watch
Survival International


Irene Cantoni
Claudio Cardamone
Sara De Donno
Fabio Matteo Dozio