WSPA’s new report, Eating our Future: the environmental impact of industrial animal agriculture, details how factory farming contributes to the environmental, economic and social crises faced by both developed and developing countries.
Launched today, the report explains how current industrial methods of agriculture are damaging the world’s resources. Factory farming not only compromises animal welfare on a vast scale, the impact is seen in the amount of grain, water and land available to the world’s poorest people.
Eating our Future highlights the urgent need to challenge and reverse any further expansion to factory farming, a call the public can respond to by reducing their meat consumption and going for ‘quality rather than quantity’.
Counting the cost of cruelty
Forests are cleared to make way for grain fields to feed livestock. Manure containing nitrogen and phosphorus leads to water pollution.
Ultimately these side-effects of intensive livestock production – itself the biggest single cause of animal suffering on the planet – contribute to the production of greenhouse gases, which drive climate change.
“Current trends in animal production are literally unsustainable. The hidden cost of factory farms is far greater than the planet can afford,” says report author Dr Michael Appleby.
Is our consumption out of control?
As food consumers, we have a key role to play in protecting the world’s resources.
Eating only humanely-reared and sustainable animal products sends a strong message to manufacturers and retailers: we care about the true cost of our food, to animals and the environment.
If a population the size of North America replaced the meat in their meals with plant-based foods for just one day, it would save over 200,000 metric tonnes of human-edible grain.
That amount of food could feed all of the estimated 2 million displaced people currently in urgent need of food aid in the Democratic Republic of Congo for at least six months, and the carbon emissions saved would be more than enough to cancel out the emissions from flying that food from the USA to Africa.
A challenge for the future
Eating our Future makes the scientific case for a shift to humane and sustainable food production. It shows the need for more research into reducing the world’s overall meat consumption without causing hardship to poor or malnourished people.
With this report, WSPA is calling on governments, overarching intergovernmental organisations, and agricultural and retail food suppliers to act.