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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9238
JPY
USD
119.51
GBP
USD
0.6614
CAD
USD
1.2119
INR
USD
63.562

Rates may not be current.