News / Economy

Industrialized Livestock Production to Increase, Despite Social Implications

A new study looking at how to feed the world's growing population says artificial meat may replace livestock consumption in the coming years.  A British scientist has published a study Monday that says the 12,000 year-old relationship between humans and livestock is changing rapidly - but in developing countries livestock remains a vital part of life.

The study by Professor Philip Thornton from the University of Edinburgh says demand for livestock will nearly double in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by 2050.  That's because populations are on the rise, incomes are increasing, and cities are growing.

He says people in developing countries who depend on livestock for their livelihood may benefit by the increased demand for meat. Thornton says, though, that the industrialization of livestock production also could be problematic for those same people.

"One of the dangers is that these poor livestock keepers would be marginalized and if they're not able to participate in markets, then clearly they wouldn't be in a position to benefit from the increase in demand," said Thornton.

Total meat production tripled in the developing world between 1980 and 2002, from 45 to 134 million tons.  In developed countries, on the other hand, the production and consumption of livestock has leveled out.

That's not the only difference, he says: livestock plays an important role in many developing countries that is not matched elsewhere.  "It's not just a means of production or income for the people who keep cattle but there are many socio-cultural things associated with livestock production," said Thornton.

He says in many parts of Africa, social relationships especially are partly defined in relation to livestock. For example, Thornton says, livestock can be used to measure social importance or can be given as a gift to form relationships.

There's a lot at stake then, he says, as the production and consumption of livestock changes. But change it must, he adds. Around nine billion people are expected to be alive by 2050 and will need to be fed - despite a limited supply of land and water. One possible option to deal with food shortage, Thornton says, could be manufactured meat.  

"There's quite a lot of research work going on the idea of artificial meat - so in other words meat that is basically sort of created in a laboratory or a factory without actually involving live animals at all," said Thornton.  That, he said, would have enormous implications for livestock both in the developing and developed world.

Climate change also could have major effects.  New technologies may be needed to deal with the effects climate change will have on livestock production.  What's more, livestock food chains are responsible for almost 20 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and pressure to curb that output will only grow, he said.

Dr. Carlos Sere is Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute based in Nairobi.  He says it's important that questions of the environment don't cloud the importance of meat consumption to developing countries.  Livestock is a crucial source of income, he says, source of nutrients, and a major part of daily life.

"Poor people need livestock," said Sere.  "If we were to make it difficult to have livestock, these people would have no alternatives and in the end we would be creating a lot of social problems, for example, migration to other countries, etc.  So we need to understand that there are environmental problems, but there are also huge opportunities and we need to really invest in tackling those."

Livestock systems cover around 30 percent of the planet's ice-free land and have a financial value of at least $1.4 trillion.  Livestock products also are key to diet - contributing 17 percent of the global calorie consumption.

Thornton's report is part of a set of 21 papers published by Britain's Royal Society.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.