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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7798
JPY
USD
106.41
GBP
USD
0.6203
CAD
USD
1.1242
INR
USD
61.430

Rates may not be current.