February 1, 2018
Lower carbon footprint, livestock industry told
The livestock industry may be responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says it is possible to cut the emissions down.
"A low-carbon livestock sector is possible to achieve," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
Speaking at the recent 10th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture in Berlin, Graziano da Silva said, citing FAO estimates, that methane emissions can quickly be cut by 20 to 30% across all production systems by adopting known husbandry practices such as regenerative grazing, forage selection and better recycling of nutrients and energy from livestock waste.
Better management of pasturelands so as to take advantage of the health- and carbon-storing capacity of their soils is also essential for increased livestock production, and this would not require further deforestation, he added.
"With improved and climate-smart practices, we can quickly put in place more sustainable and 'greener' livestock supply chains", Graziano da Silva said. He urged participants to seize the opportunity after last year's climate summit in Bonn COP23, which specifically indicated improved livestock management systems as a priority.
Animal health issues
Graziano da Silva also focused on animal and human health issues, warning that "the emergence of diseases will likely intensify in the coming years, as rising temperatures favour the proliferation of insects".
Zoonotic diseases (diseases transmitted by animals) with pandemic potential such as some strains of avian influenza "pose a big threat for people, animals and the environment", he said.
FAO has a long track record in tackling transboundary animal diseases. It also recognises the need to tackle antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a major threat to human health that is exacerbated by the abuse, overuse and misuse of antibiotics
in livestock, which globally consume three times more of such products than humans.
The director-general emphasised FAO's recommendation to immediately phase out the use of antimicrobial medicines to promote animal growth. FAO has also recommended that they should be used only to cure disease and alleviate unnecessary suffering, while their preventive use should be deployed only under strict circumstances. Rick Alberto