FAO Report Creates a Stink Over Farm Animals
Author: Robin Pomeroy
Gases from manure and flatulence, deforestation to make grazing land and the energy used in farming meant livestock produced 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that trapped heat in the atmosphere, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.
In its report "Livestock's long shadow", the FAO said a projected doubling of global meat production to 465 million tonnes in 2050 and a similar rise in milk output would mean the the sector would have to address its effect on climate.
"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation," said the FAO's Henning Steinfeld, the report's senior author.
Many scientists believe increased emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are causing global warming, which could lead to catastrophic climate changes.
While producing a relatively small proportion -- about 9 percent -- of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), livestock was responsible for large quantities of other important greenhouse gases, according to the FAO.
Livestock produced 35-40 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide which had almost 300 times the global warming potential of CO2, the report said.
Besides the threat to the climate, the growth of livestock farming had added to water pollution and the reduction of forests to make way for grazing. About 70 percent of Amazonian forests had been turned into grazing land, it said.
The FAO said agriculture needed to develop ways of reducing its emissions, including recycling manure into "biogas" fuel, adapting animals' diets and improving land use policies.