Meat, taxes, and the sustainability of the global food system
By Esther Ortiz, Equal Times
8 February 2019
Part of the scientific community refers to the current geological era as the Anthropocene, due to the impact of human activities on terrestrial ecosystems. In June 2018, Science magazine published a research article on one of these activities: food production, and meat production in particular. “Impacts of the lowest-impact animal products typically exceed those of vegetable substitutes, providing new evidence for the importance of dietary change,” it concluded.
It is not just a matter of reducing greenhouse gases from food production – which accounts for 26 per cent of total GHG emissions – but of saving the future global food system. “With current diets and production practices, feeding 7.6 billion people is degrading terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, depleting water resources, and driving climate change,” underlines the article.
The increase in meat production and consumption over the last five decades is coming under the spotlight. Whilst in 1961, 71.36 million tonnes of meat were produced for a world population of around 3 billion people, in 2014 the figure had soared to 317.85 million tonnes for just over 7 billion people. As for the number of animals slaughtered during this period, the largest growth was seen in that of pigs: going from 400 million to nearly 1.5 billion, according to the FAO. The world’s leading pork producer is China, followed by the United States, Germany, Spain and Brazil.
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