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(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) A new study, published in the journal Global Food Security, finds that livestock place less of a burden on the human food supply than previously reported. The study also found that certain production systems actually contribute directly to food security as they produce more highly valuable nutrients for humans than they consume. "As a Livestock Policy Officer working for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, I have been asked many times by the press to report on the negative environmental impacts of livestock," explained lead investigator Anne Mottet. "Doing so, I came to realize that people are continually exposed to incorrect information that is repeated without being challenged, in particular about livestock feed. There is currently no official and complete international database on what livestock eat. This study contributes to filling this gap and to provide peer-reviewed evidence to better inform policy makers and the public." The research found that the amount of cereals needed to produce one kilogram of meat was only three kilograms, not the six to 20 kilograms cited in previous studies. The study also noted that 86 percent of livestock feed is not suitable for human consumption, and not otherwise using these “leftovers” could quickly become an environmental burden. "Animal production, in its many forms, plays an integral role in the food system, making use of marginal lands, turning co-products into edible goods, contributing to crop productivity and turning edible crops into highly nutritious, protein-rich food,” concluded Mottet. “Quantifying the land and biomass resources engaged in livestock production and the food output they generate, but also improving our modelling capacity by including trends in consumer preferences, shifts in animal species, climate change impacts, and industrial processes to improve the human edibility of certain feed materials is arguably basic information needed as part of further research into the challenge of sustainably feeding 9.6 billion people by 2050.”

Posted September 12th, 2017