Intensive farming can make food security worse for the world's hungry

Cattle in Brazil

The World Society Protection of Animals and Compassion in World Farming has joined with a new research study. It shows that feeding livestock with cereal and other crop-rich diets is likely to have negative effects on food security globally; particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of Asia and Latin America, where food security is already problematic.

The new independent report, written by a team led by Prof. Karlheinz Erb at the Institute of Social Ecology, Alpen-Adria University in Vienna, challenges current thought saying that intensification is the only way to feed the world. It goes on to show that it is possible to rear livestock with good animal welfare standards and feed the world a healthy diet.

This is an important conclusion given that livestock production dominates resource use and is further projected to grow:

  • Over 30% of the global cereal harvest is used to feed farm animals, 60% in the EU
  • Approximately 25% of the total world fish production was used for purposes other than to feed people, in 2007. This fish was used to feed pigs and poultry, amongst other uses 
  • Approximately 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the livestock sector

Due to this, WSPA and Compassion in World Farming are urging governments, intergovernmental organisations, the donor community and the food industry to take action on the direction of livestock production from the following areas:

  1. Develop humane-sustainable food security strategies, including farm animal welfare in future food security assessments and policies. 
  2. Question the intensification of livestock farming. 
  3. Reduce the quantity of arable crops, especially cereals, fed to livestock. 
  4. Develop specific food and livestock policies to assist vulnerable sectors of the population. 
  5. Promote sustainable, lower meat diets and address food losses and waste.

Read the briefing Food Security and Farm Animal Welfare and the full report commissioned by Compassion in World Farming and funded by Compassion in World Farming, The Tubney Charitable Trust and WSPA Impact of Industrial Grain Fed Livestock Production on Food Security.

See how communities around the world are investing in food security and improved farm animal welfare Enhancing Rural Livelihoods in India, Small Scale Milk Production in Kenya, Innovative pig farming in Colombia and how animal welfare in Brazil is improving cattle productivity.

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