Livestock production, a much smaller challenge to global food security than often reported

phys.org | 9/11/2017 | Staff
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Humans face mounting challenges when it comes to finding ways to sustainably feed an exploding population. As populations become wealthier and more urbanized, the demand for animal products continues to climb. Although supply chain efficiencies improve, livestock are considered a resource drain, requiring a large amount of feed, which could also be used by humans, to produce a relatively small amount of meat. A new study in Global Food Security found that livestock place less burden on the human food supply than previously reported. Even stronger, certain production systems contribute directly to global food security because they produce more highly valuable nutrients for humans, such as proteins, than they consume.

"As a Livestock Policy Officer working for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, I have been asked many times by the press to report on the negative environmental impacts of livestock," explained lead investigator Anne Mottet, PhD. "Doing so, I came to realize that people are continually exposed to incorrect information that is repeated without being challenged, in particular about livestock feed. There is currently no official and complete international database on what livestock eat. This study contributes to filling this gap and to provide peer-reviewed evidence to better inform policy makers and the public."

Improvements - Food - Systems - People - People

While there have been vast improvements in food systems, people still go hungry. In 2015 alone, approximately 800 million people around the world were undernourished. Animal food sources make a vital contribution to global nutrition and are an excellent source of macro- and micronutrients. Meat makes up 18% of global calories and 25% of global protein consumption and provides essential micro-nutrients, such as vitamin B12, iron, and calcium. Livestock use large areas of pastures where nothing else could be produced. Animals also add to agricultural production through manure production and drought power. Further,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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