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Major Report Explores Staggering Impact of Meat Production

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Major Report Explores Staggering Impact of Meat Production

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.
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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

335 comments

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7:02AM PST on Feb 11, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

1:48AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

I wonder whether the US (and all nations) should legislate to cap the amount of meat that can be sold within the country. And the cap could be gradually reduced with time.

5:37PM PDT on Jul 8, 2010

Beat the heat, cut back on meat.

Plus, lose some fat and save your bacon!

7:23AM PDT on Apr 26, 2010

Thank you for the article Melissa.We are eating meat in excess!!!

4:57PM PDT on Apr 20, 2010

thanks for the info. i agree we don't need to eat a lot of meat

1:12PM PDT on Apr 16, 2010

Cat..Just a bit of info..cooking fruit turns it from an alkaline to an acidic food..fresh, ripe fruit is meant to be eaten raw..and veggies should never be heated above 130 deg. F., as this effectively kills most of the good nitrients in it...I don't know how this info will help or not for people with crohns...just thought i would let you know. Also..Cooked meat has most of the "water" cooked out of it..and as we all know..true.full-time carnivorous animals don't bother with the formality of cooking thier food..so they do get a lot of thier fluids from thier meat...Humans are, averaged out..approx. 70% water..(Strangely enough..so is the earth)..so eating more fresh fruits and veggies will replenish this water better than cooked meat..most should try keeping the formula of 70% of thier food coming from fruits, veggies and grains..the other 30% can come from meat if you want..though i am a vegitarian..again..not sure how this applies to Crohns..just info, You would know better how to interpret this.

12:51PM PDT on Apr 16, 2010

It is hard to make EITHER point (Veg./meat)without sounding holier than thou..but I'll try. As a used to be hunter, and others that still do will agree with me..when we killed our moose/deer..we snuck up on it..and hopefully..took it down with one shot..because if it went on the run..the "Flight" chemicals..Adrenaline and lactic filled the meat and turned a 700 pound moose into sausage and hamburger meat...and if you have ever been to a slaughterhouse..watching the animals being forced thru the door..they have those same fear/flight feeelings..they know where they are going...so right from the start the meat is tainted...never mind any other chamicals and medications ..(up to 2700 of them) are added while growing..and as for the "reduce/stop overpopulation" people...think..if approx 80 to 90% af all grain (Wheat,corn,oats,soy..etc) in North America is being grown for animal feed..how many people could that amount of food take care of..And for those who extol the virtues of Aboriginal meat consumption..I say,go and have dinner with them..as they will eat ALL of the animal..eyes,tongue..all the organs..and i used to laugh as i watched two brothers in a native village fight over what they called the "Bum guts"..apparently because of the semi-digested plant matter that they found quite a delicacy...either way..eat meat if you want to..it is just not necessary 3 times a day 7 days a week..Too much protien can do serious harm to the liver..as not enough isn't good for you either.

10:09AM PDT on Apr 8, 2010

processed meat with antibiotics GMO ....

7:26AM PDT on Apr 6, 2010

thanks

12:52AM PDT on Apr 6, 2010

we eat far to much meat

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