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    Farm Animal Production and Climate Change

    By Keith R | June 23, 2008

    Topics: Climate Change, Sustainable Agriculture | No Comments »

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    The May issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, the peer-reviewed monthly research journal of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), featured an article* on the contribution of farm animal production to climate change. Although the article does not focus just on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), given the importance of farm animal production throughout the region [in terms of employment, land use and contribution to gross domestic product (GDP)], I thought it was worth a mention here on The Temas Blog.

    The article was done by two researchers from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Worldwatch Institute. It examined existing scientific literature on the subject and various mitigation strategies, including the most recent IPCC assessment, the FAO‘s 2007 report Livestock’s Long Shadow, data from the US EPA, and several studies on agriculture greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and mitigation strategies.

    The authors assert that any analysis of meat, egg, and milk production should take into account not only the direct rearing and slaughtering of animals, but also grain and fertilizer production for animal feed, waste storage and disposal, water use, and energy expenditures on farms and in transporting feed and finished animal products.

    The report argues that increasing livestock production (expected to double globally by 2050) and increasingly intensive production methods in regions such as LAC will increase the already high global GHG (primarily CO2, methane and N2O) emissions from agriculture (estimated by FAO at 18% of all human-induced GHG emissions). The authors also argue that cattle ranching and feed production is a major contributor to deforestation in places such as Brazil, releasing sequestered carbon from both soils and forests.

    What should be done? The authors argue for:

    What do you think?


    * Koneswaran G, Nierenberg D. Global Farm Animal Production and Global Warming: Impacting and Mitigating Climate Change. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2008; 116(5):578-582.

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