Half Of World Crop Is Feeding Animals, Not People


Photo: Warren McLaren / inov8
UN Want Us To Eat Less Meat
Agricultural production accounts for a staggering 70% of the global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use, and 14% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

These figures (more after jump) are contained in a new report from the United Nations, which looks at the environmental impacts of consumption and production.

Professor Edgar Hertwich, a lead author of the report, sums up its findings for The Guardian: "Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels."
The report's rather cumbersome full name is "Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials, A Report of the Working Group on the Environmental Impacts of Products and Materials to the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management." (IPSRM)

The ISPRM a group of internationally recognized experts on sustainable resource management convened by UNEP

Although available as a free PDF download, (click link above) but we've excerpted some of the report's juicier bits here:

Agriculture and food consumption are identified as one of the most important drivers of environmental pressures, especially habitat change, climate change, water use and toxic emissions.

Animal products are important because more than half of the world's crops are used to feed animals, not people.

Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth, increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.

Large proportions of the world's crops are fed to animals and this is expected to increase to 40-50% of global cereal production in 2050.

NB: Contrary to the photo used at the top, feedlot fattened, grain-fed livestock are more problematic than free ranging, grass-fed cattle.
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Tags: Animals | Carbon Emissions | Food Safety