Study on linking meat and climate change was inaccurate

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Thursday, March 25, 2010

A scientist in the United States has questioned the impact meat and diary production has on climate change, CNN reported.

In 2006, a report published by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) titled “Livestock's Long Shadow,” claimed meat production was responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, which it added was greater than the impact of transport.

Livestock farming already occupies 30% of the world's surface and its environmental impact will double by 2050 unless drastic action is taken, the U.N. warned.

Environmentalists and leading campaigners used the findings to urge consumers to eat less meat and save the planet.

But Frank Mitloehner, an air quality specialist from the University of California at Davis (UCD), said the U.N. reached its conclusions for the livestock sector by adding up emissions from farm to table, including the gases produced by growing animal feed; animals' digestive emissions; and processing meat and milk into foods.

But its figures for transport did not add up emissions from well to wheel; instead, it considered only emissions from fossil fuels burned while driving.

One of the report's authors, Pierre Gerber, told CNN he accepted the comparison with transport data was inaccurate. But the comparability of the data did not challenge the estimate of 18%, he added. Gerber said that the FAO plans to publish a revised report on the impact of the livestock industry.

Duncan Pullar of the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX), which promotes the beef and lamb industry in Britain, said the “credibility gaps” on both sides of the argument are making it difficult for consumers to understand the impact of food production.
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