C. Global meat production and consumption have increased rapidly in recent decades, with harmful effects on the environment and public health as well as on the economy, according to research done by Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet project for Vital Signs Online.
Worldwide meat production has tripled over the last four decades and increased 20 percent in just the last 10 years. Meanwhile, industrial countries are consuming growing amounts of meat, nearly double the quantity in developing countries.
"Much of the vigorous growth in meat production is due to the rise of industrial animal agriculture, or factory farming," said Danielle Nierenberg, Director of the Nourishing the Planet Program. "Factory farms pollute the environment through the heavy use of inputs such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers used for feed production.
Large-scale meat production also has serious implications for the world's climate. Animal waste releases methane and nitrous oxide, greenhouse gases that are 25 and 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, respectively. "The world's supersized appetite for meat is among the biggest reasons greenhouse gas emissions are still growing rapidly," said Worldwatch President Robert Engelman. "Yet properly managed and scaled meat production-like the kind pursued by small-scale pastoralists on dry grasslands-could actually sequester carbon dioxide. It's largely a matter of rethinking meat at both ends of the production-consumption trail."
Some highlights from the research are:
- Pork is the most widely consumed meat in the world, followed by poultry, beef, and mutton.
- Poultry production is the fastest growing meat sector, increasing 4.7 percent in 2010 to 98 million tons.
- Worldwide, per capita meat consumption increased from 41.3 kilograms in 2009 to 41.9 kilograms in 2010. People In the developing world eat 32 kilograms of meat a year on average, compared to 80 kilograms per person in the industrial world.