On Monday, a new Foresight Report titled "The future of food and farming: challenges and choices for global sustainability," featuring contributions from 400 researchers around the world, called for a drastic reduction in global meat consumption to help meet the food demands of the growing human population.
"The Foresight study shows that the food system is already failing in at least two ways. Firstly, it is unsustainable, with resources being used faster than they can be naturally replenished. Secondly, a billion people are going hungry with another billion people suffering from 'hidden hunger', whilst a billion people are over-consuming," says Professor Sir John Beddington, the British Government's Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Foresight research program.
The researchers indicate that grain-fed meat (particularly pigs and poultry) have "serious implications for competition for land, water and other inputs" and that "a reduction in the amount of meat consumed in high- and middle-income countries would have multiple benefits: a reduced demand for grain, leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and a positive effect on health." According to the study, "Dietary changes are very significant for the future food system because, per calorie, some food items (such as grain-fed meat) require considerably more resources to produce than others."
With the global population expected to grow from 6.8 billion to more than 9 billion and annual per capita meat consumption expected to rise from nearly 82 pounds today to 115 pounds by 2050, scientists say the increase in demand on food crops to feed farmed animals will lead to higher overall food costs, increased deforestation to provide land to grow farmed animal feed crops and elevated levels of greenhouse gas emissions associated with raising animals for food. Additionally, the researchers conclude that a global shift to organic food production may only meet future food demands if combined with a "major shift in consumer diets," a tax on livestock production and other "proactive measures" to reduce global meat consumption.
Maynard S. Clark, RAC | 617-615-9672 (GoogleVoice) | Skype: MaynardClark