August 16, 2018


Argentina's beef production faces risk of environmental sustainability



Argentina, the world's sixth-largest beef producer according to the US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service, has long been on the radar of environmentalists because of the problem of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions-methane and nitrous oxide-from livestock farming.


While the use of feedlots has contributed to reducing GHG emissions, it has generated another problem: soil and groundwater pollution, according to veterinarian Guillermo Berra as per Inter Press Service (IPS).


According to the latest National GHG Inventory, which Argentina submitted last year to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agriculture and livestock raising, including deforestation, generates 39% of total emissions. Livestock farming is also the subsector with the highest emissions, ahead of transport. It emits 76.41 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year, or 20.7% of the total.


The inventory said the main source of emission is enteric fermentation, which refers to the methane that cattle release into the atmosphere as a result of their normal digestion process.


"These results should come as no surprise in a country where farming is key. But they show us the complexity of the challenge of reducing emissions", Sebastián Galbusera, who teaches environmental economics at the Tres de Febrero National University, told IPS.


Berra warns, "If we want to continue exporting in the long term, livestock production must not only be economically efficient but also environmentally sustainable and socially responsible."


"Argentina, in the future, could be at a commercial disadvantage if environmental trade barriers are implemented," he added.