9 January 2014
The current industrialised meat and dairy production system is "untenable"
and needs a radical rethink to reduce its impact on the environment, according
to a new report.
Published today by Friends of the Earth Europe and the Heinrich Boell
Foundation, the report says that since the current system depends on scarce land
and water resources, meat and dairy production is having an increasingly
devastating impact on society and the environment.
The Meat Atlas aims to catalyse the debate over the need for better, safer and
more sustainable food and farming. It also advocates clear individual and
political solutions and calls for a loosening of corporate control over food.
Heinrich Boell Foundation president Barbara Unmüßig said: "Intensive meat
production isn't just torture for animals. It destroys the environment, and
devours great chunks of our raw materials which we import from the global South
as animal feed.
"After China, Europe is the biggest importer of soya. Argentina and Brazil are
dramatically increasing their soya cultivation, and it's being fed almost
exclusively to the animals we slaughter. Rising meat consumption is forcing up
land prices," he added.
According to the report, this has devastating consequences with almost a third
of the world's land being used to grow animal feed.
It also claims that small farmers are "losing their land and their livelihoods".
"That schnitzel on our plates jeopardises the food security of many people in
the global South," said Boell.
Outlining the impact of intensive meat and dairy production on freshwater usage
and land, the report finds that worldwide agriculture consumes 70% of available
freshwater, one third of which goes towards raising livestock.
According to the Meat Atlas, the increasingly intensive livestock sector is also
one of the largest consumers of land and edible crops, with more than 40% of the
annual output of wheat, rye, oats and maize used for animal feed, and with one
third of the world's 14 billion hectares of cultivated land used to grow it.
The report highlights the significant amounts of land and resources needed to
produce meat. For example, a kilo of beef requires 15,500 litres of water - the
same amount required to produce 12 kilos of wheat or 118 kilos of carrots. It
also claims that to make a hamburger more than 3.5 square metres of land is
Friends of the Earth Europe senior food campaigner Adrian Bebb said: "Diet is no
longer a private matter. Every time we eat, we are making a political choice,
and we are impacting upon the lives of people around the world, on the
environment, biodiversity and the climate.
"Huge amounts of resources go into the food on our plates. Sustainable
alternatives exist to the dominant destructive, corporate-controlled and
intensive global system for producing and consuming meat," added Bebb.
The growing global demand for meat is a serious concern and despite European and
American levels of consumption stagnating, the growing economies, such as Asia,
will see around an 80% increase in demand for meat and dairy products by 2022.