Livestock's Long Shadow

Livestock's Long Shadow

Infobox Book
name = Livestock's Long Shadow - Environmental Issues and Option
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Henning Steinfeld, Pierre Gerber, Tom Wassenaar, Vincent Castel, Mauricio Rosales, Cees de Haan.
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country =
language = English
series =
subject =
genre = Agriculture
publisher = Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
pub_date = 2006
english_pub_date =
media_type = book
pages = 390 pp
isbn = ISBN 9251055718
oclc =
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Livestock's Long Shadow - Environmental Issues and Options" is a United Nations report, released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) on 29 November, 2006, [ "Livestock's long shadow - Environmental issues and options"] ] that "aims to assess the full impact of the livestock sector on environmental problems, along with potential technical and policy approaches to mitigation".

The assessment is based on the most recent and complete data available, taking into account direct impacts, along with the impacts of feed crop agriculture required for livestock production. The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

In the report, senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld reports that the meat industry is “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems" and that "urgent action is required to remedy the situation." [ [ Livestock a major threat to environment ] ]

The report has come in for criticism. In October 2008 after one of the contributing authors, Dr. Pierre Gerber, an FAO livestock policy officer admitted publicly the livestock emissions figure included emissions arising from deforestation and other land clearance measures.

Originally, the report claimed the world's livestock industry "generates 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2" [ [ Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars, UN report warns ] ] and "that livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than that of transport." [ [ Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment ] ]

In October 2008, however, Dr. Pierre Gerber admitted to Glenn Tyrrell, the marketing manager of New Zealand meat company, Silver Fern Farms, that the report included emissions from deforestation for livestock production as opposed to just animal emissions. "Livestock’s role in deforestation is of proven importance in Latin America, the continent suffering the largest net loss of forests and resulting carbon fluxes (p. 91)." Its inclusion inflated emssions attrbutable to livestick by a third (or 6% of the reported total). This actually means emissions of live stock should be read as 12% and not the 18% the report claims [] .

Further doubt on the methodology came in April 2008. The [United States Environmental Protection Agency] released a major stocktake of emissions in the United States entitled "Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2006" [] . On 6.1 it found "In 2006, the agricultural sector was responsible for emissions of 454.1 teragrams of CO2 equivalent (Tg CO2 Eq.), or 6 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions."

References to the Report

United States ex-Vice President Al Gore was challenged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in a letter dated March 7, 2007 to become a vegan, and cited the "Livestock's Long Shadow" report as evidence that a change to a vegan diet was the single biggest change an individual could make to counter the effects of climate change. In its letter, PETA noted that Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", which outlines the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming, failed to mention either the effects of diet or the meat industry on climate change. [ [ PETA Media Center > Recent News Releases : PETA Billboard Asks Al Gore, 'Too Chicken to Go Vegetarian?' ] ]

The United States Center for Consumer Freedom summarised the report in October 2008, in light of news the methodology may not have been as sound as that purported, that "No question about it: The 2006 United Nations report Livestock’s Long Shadow put a new jolt into animal-rights and other anti-meat campaigns. The report’s claim that 18 percent of global greenhouse gases are caused by animal agriculture has become a rallying cry for activists whose fondest wish is to weld the animal rights and environmental movements into one giant behemoth to remake the way we eat. But something has always smelled a little funny about that “18 percent,” and this week a New Zealand meat company helped us put our finger on it [] ."


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