Scientists Suggest Changing How Livestock Feed is Produced to Mitigate Environmental Effects
It’s no secret that livestock production is a resource-intensive sector of agriculture that takes a heavy toll on the planet and contributes significantly to climate change. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the livestock sector is the single largest anthropogenic user of land. It uses approximately 30 percent of the land surface on the planet, is responsible for between 14 and 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to some estimates, and accounts for more than 8 percent of human water use.
Experts have different ideas about how to mitigate the environmental impacts of livestock production, but the two most modeled and researched methods are one, increasing productivity and two, reducing demand. Increasing productivity means meeting the projected demands for meat while minimizing impacts through strategies such as improving feed efficiency, digestibility, and the protein and mineral levels in feed. Reducing demand, on the other hand, means urging eaters to consume less meat products and replacing the large proportion of ruminants with monogastric livestock, such as pigs, rabbits, and other animals.