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Friday February 28 2020

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In Full . . .

Farming methods have to change

Posted on January 29 2020 at 4:17:08

In her otherwise excellent analysis “What can we do for wildlife?” (The Village, January 2020), Mary Green reinforces the idea that it’s still OK to eat meat.

She correctly states that “Farming disturbs and depletes the soil”, but goes on to say: “We aren’t going to stop arable farming. But we could ameliorate it”.

Perhaps we could, but it wouldn’t address the major problem of environmental degradation – the bulk of arable farmland is used for growing grass and grain to feed to farm animals.

A joint study by Amsterdam University and Loma Linda University in California assessed the benefit of switching from a meat protein to a vegetable protein diet.

Their report revealed the (always) greater negative impact of meat and dairy on the environment over a plant-based diet.

Land use is particularly inefficient. They established that, on average, 10kg of vegetable protein was needed to generate just one kg of animal protein.

The most inefficient of all are cattle, which produce just 1kg of meat after being fed 17kg of high-quality vegetable protein.

Some 70% of all farmed land in the world is dedicated to rearing animals; a vegetarian diet would require less than half of that and a vegan diet less than a quarter.

The Washington-based World Watch Institute also carried out its own research and reported that: “The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future.”

Earthsave International were also vocal about the damaging effect farmed animals are having on our climate.

Their research showed animal agriculture is responsible for more than 100 million tonnes of methane annually, which is 21 times more effective at trapping heat than CO2 while remaining in the atmosphere for nine to 15 years.

Animal farming also accounts for some 9% of CO2 and 65% of nitrous oxide (N2O). Nitrous oxide has 300 times the global warming potential of CO2.

When Mary Green writes that we can’t “rewild”, she’s right – but only as long as we keep animal farming.

Maurice Brett, Marlbrook


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