lunedì 9 febbraio 2009

Damned Beefsteak!

According to FAO, meat production should double in 2030.

These forecast data are quite upsetting: the link between increases in meat consumption, fodder, increases in cereal prices is really very strong. Furthermore, to this chain, it has to be summed up the growth in oil prices and the problem of global warming.

To feed animals destined to meat production about 40% of cultivated land and huge amounts of oil are used: according to the 2006 FAO report “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options” it emerges that in 2002 about 670 millions tons of cereals (about one third of world production) have become fodder. An increasing number of areas are used for cereals destined to animal feeding while the land destined to human nutrition is continuosly reducing with remarkable implications in food price trends.

Bovine breeding has become the second cause of global warming. Livestock (according to FAO data) is producing the 18% of greenhouse gas emissions; in particular, cows are producing 9% in total CO2. Livestock produces 37% of total methane generated by human activities. It has been estimated that to produce 1/2kg of meat is necessary the equivalent of 4l of fuel: thus 1000l of fuel are required - with 2.5 tons of CO2 released (about the same emission of a mid-range car in six months) - to sustain the average meat consumption for a family composed of 4 persons.

To feed a little privileged part of world population, having clear problems of obesity, wider social sectors in developing countries are pushed to poverty and even in the same developed countries poverty levels are increasing. In the same time this obesity economics is heavily contributing to the environmental degradation for the entire planet.

A reduction in meat consumption thus represents an important step everyone can do; everyone can provide a contribution to re-direct, through aware and healthier consumption styles, organic agriculture and livestock production and local products (as effective and efficient reply to the present economic and environmental crisis), economic development toward really sustainable development strategies.

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