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Livestock's Long Shadow

2014-12-29 15:30| Publisher: earthcaring| Views: 1480| Comments: 0|Author: Henning Steinfeld, Pierre Gerber, Tom Wassenaar, Vincent Castel, Mauricio Rosales, Cees de Haan.|From: Wikipedia

Abstract: Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Optionsis aUnited Nationsreport, released by theFood and Agriculture Organizationof the United Nations (FAO) on 29 November 2006,that "aims to assess ...
Livestock's Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options is a United Nations report, released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on 29 November 2006,[1] that "aims to assess the full impact of thelivestock sector on environmental problems, along with potential technical and policy approaches to mitigation".[1]


The assessment was based on the most recent and complete data available, taking into account direct impacts, along with the impacts of feed crop agriculture required for livestock production. The report states that the livestock sector is one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradationclimate change and air pollutionwater shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

Based on this report, senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Dr. Henning Steinfeld stated that the meat industryis “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems" and that "urgent action is required to remedy the situation."[2]

Following a Life Cycle Analysis approach, the report evaluates "that livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gasemissions, a bigger share than that of transport.".[3] GHG emissions arise from feed production (e.g. chemical fertilizer production, deforestation for pasture and feed crops, cultivation of feed crops, feed transport and soil organic matter losses in pastures and feed crops), animal production (e.g. enteric fermentation and methane and nitrous oxide emissions from manure) and as a result of the transportation of animal products. Following this approach the report estimates that livestock contributes to about 9% of total anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, but 37% of methane and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions. Along the animal food chain, main sources of emissions are:

  • Land use and land use change: 2.5 Giga tonnes CO2 equivalent; including forest and other natural vegetation replaced by pasture and feed crop in the Neotropics (CO2) and carbon release from soils such as pasture and arable land dedicated to feed production (CO2)
  • Feed Production (except carbon released from soil): 0.4 Giga tonnes CO2 equivalent, including fossil fuel used in manufacturing chemical fertilizer for feed crops (CO2) and chemical fertilizer application on feedcrops and leguminous feed crop (N2O, NH3)
  • Animal production: 1.9 Giga tonnes CO2 equivalent, including enteric fermentation from ruminants (CH4) and on-farm fossil fuel use (CO2)
  • Manure Management: 2.2 Giga tonnes CO2 equivalent, mainly through manure storage, application and deposition (CH4, N2O, NH3)
  • Processing and international transport: 0.03 Giga tonnes CO2 equivalent

In March 2010, a newspaper reported that an unnamed American scientist had convinced one of the authors of the report that the report's comparison of the relative magnitude of emissions from transportation versus the meat production industry was flawed, because it was based on different calculations of each sector's emissions: "The meat figure had been reached by adding all greenhouse-gas emissions associated with meat production, including fertiliser production, land clearance, methane emissions, and vehicle use on farms, whereas the transport figure had only included the burning of fossil fuels." [4]

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