Livestock and climate change
Release Date 15 June 2009
Ian Givens, Professor of Animal Science at the University of Reading, comments on the issues surrounding Sir Paul McCartney's campaign for a Meat Free Monday.
"Keeping livestock for the production of meat and milk contributes to climate change and environmental pollution due to methane emissions and nitrogen lost from excreta and manures. Research at the University of Reading's Centre for Dairy Research is looking at ways to reduce harmful pollutants. With methane contributing 15 per cent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, this research will become increasingly more significant on a global scale.
"The latest research suggests that altering the nutritional composition of ruminant diets and the manner by which these diets are provided to the animals can have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions per unit of product. Ruminant animals remain unique with their inherent ability to consume fibrous plant material, that is indigestible by humans, and produce protein-rich food products for human consumption that can form part of a healthy and balanced diet. While meat and dairy products continue to make up a large part of the world's diets, we are working hard to minimise their environmental impact, while recognising the important role that these products play in improving the nutrition of millions of people around the globe."
Coverage of Sir Paul's McCartney's campaign can be viewed at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/15/paul-mccartney-meat-free-monday