FAO Yields to Livestock Industry Pressure

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A New York Times article by Robert Goodland, co-founder of Chomping Climate Change, explaining climate risk and opportunity in food and agriculture a few years ago seems just as relevant today, so following is an excerpt, and the full original article is at http://nyti.ms/1NouRzx.

The past year has been the warmest ever in the United States, with record heat sweeping across the country last week…  harming livestock. In fact, livestock are not only harmed by human-caused global-warming greenhouse gas, but also cause about 18 percent of it, according toLivestock’s Long Shadow,” a 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report by FAO livestock specialists (who normally promote livestock).

In contrast, environmental specialists employed by two other United Nations specialized agencies, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation, have developed a widely-cited assessment that at least 51 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas is attributable to livestock. I’m one of those specialists.

One might expect the FAO to work objectively to determine whether the true figure is closer to 18 percent or 51 percent. Instead, Frank Mitloehner, known for his claim that 18 percent is much too high a figure to use in the U.S., was announced last week as the chair of a new partnership between the meat industry and FAO.

FAO’s new partners include the International Meat Secretariat and International Dairy Federation… [and] the stated goal of Frank Mitloehner, chair of FAO’s new partnership, is to promote intensified livestock production.

… Conversely, replacing at least a quarter of today’s livestock products with better alternatives would both reduce emissions and allow forest to regenerate on a vast amount of land, which could then absorb excess atmospheric carbon to reduce it to a safe level. This may be the only pragmatic way to reverse climate change in the next five years as needed. Sufficient renewable energy infrastructure is projected to take at least 20 years and $36.5 trillion to develop.

Substitutes for livestock products require no subsidies or offsets. Consumers can buy more of them tomorrow.

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