A major report released this month details the grave problems being created by the rapidly growing livestock industry. Global meat production has increased threefold in the past thirty years and could double its present level by 2050, according to the report by an international team of scientists and policy experts. The results of this “livestock revolution” are expected to create notable negative impact on human health, the environment and the global economy, the authors conclude. Safe to assume this report wasn’t commissioned by the beef council.
“The livestock industry is massive and growing,” said Harold A. Mooney, co-editor of the two-volume report, Livestock in a Changing Landscape (Island Press). Mooney is a professor of biology and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment. “This is the first time that we’ve looked at the social, economic, health and environmental impacts of livestock in an integrated way and presented solutions for reducing the detrimental effects of the industry and enhancing its positive attributes,” he said.
Key findings in the report are staggering:
- More than 1.7 billion animals are used in livestock production worldwide and occupy more than one-fourth of the Earth’s land.
- Production of animal feed consumes about one-third of total arable land.
- Livestock production accounts for approximately 40 percent of the global agricultural gross domestic product.
- The livestock sector, including feed production and transport, is responsible for about 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.