Postive protest

The financial crisis has led to a great upsurge of protest around the world.

Movements are springing up to campaign against the authors of the financial crisis - to look at new forms of capitalism - and how to manage greed in the West.

And they are also experimenting with protest itself - exploring new ways to bring about the changes they want to see in the world.

One theme is positive campaigning - instead of opposing the the things they don't like they are looking at ways to support and encourage the things they do.

A key test bed for these new ideas has been in the food industry.

The BBC's Dan Saladino looks at how some grass roots activists are coming up with new ideas to persuade businesses operate in more environmentally friendly and transparent ways.

This growing concern among consumers about how food is produced and sourced has made it a major preoccupation for big business too.

The Brazilian beef industry is a case in point. Cattle ranching is the biggest factor driving deforestation in the Amazon.

In recent years the rate of deforestation in the Amazon has dropped dramatically. One factor has been a campaign to stop trade in meat from illegally deforested land led by Greenpeace and supported by the Brazilian farmers organisation Allianca da Terra.

This campaign - and new laws - has helped persuade some of the vast meatpacking and slaughterhouse companies that operate in Brazil to begin to change their practices.

On a recent trip to the country Justin Rowlatt met Carolina Barretto who works for the Mafrig group - the third largest meat company in the world. She says Mafrig carefully documents the source of all the cattle the company buys.

Plus - the key to successful marketing is directing your message to people who might actually be interested to hear it. Internet search has made that a whole lot easier for companies.

Have you noticed how just after you send off an email about your summer holiday you find you are suddenly besieged with ads from travel agencies and airlines? Just like magic eh?

Well, not really.

It reflects how much internet firms now know about us, as Google's new privacy policy has made plain.

The new policy allows the company to gather and use data gathered from your email, your calendar, and your search habits.

Our regular technology commentator, Jeremy Wagstaff from the Reuters news agency, worries that what seems like magic to consumers now may soon seem like an unwarranted intrusion into our private lives.

(Image: Close up of a cow. Credit: Associated Press)

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Wed 8 Feb 2012 08:32 GMT

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