The beef, pork and poultry industries also emit large amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases, Steinfeld said, adding that climate-change issues related to livestock remain largely unaddressed. "Without a change in current practices, the intensive increases in projected livestock production systems will double the current environmental burden and will contribute to large-scale ecosystem degradation unless appropriate measures are taken," he said.
The report concludes with a review of various options for introducing more environmentally and socially sustainable practices to animal production systems.
"We want to protect those on the margins who are dependent on a handful of livestock for their livelihood," Mooney said. "On the other side, we want people engaged in the livestock industry to look closely at the report and determine what improvements they can make."
One solution is for countries to adopt policies that provide incentives for better management practices that focus on land conservation and more efficient water and fertilizer use, he said.
But calculating the true cost of meat production is a daunting task, Mooney added. Consider the piece of ham on your breakfast plate, and where it came from before landing on your grocery shelf. First, take into account the amount of land used to rear the pig. Then factor in all the land, water and fertilizer used to grow the grain to feed the pig and the associated pollution that results.
Finally, consider that while the ham may have come from Denmark, where there are twice as many pigs as people, the grain to feed the animal was likely grown in Brazil, where rai
|Contact: Mark Shwartz|