News / Science & Technology

Regulation Can't Keep Pace with Livestock

UN: livestock production growing faster than capacity to safely manage it

Livestock production is growing faster than the capacity of nations to safely and responsibly manage it, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.

In the latest edition of its flagship report, "The State of Food and Agriculture," the FAO says that while the rapid growth of the livestock sector is helping to improve human diets, it is also posing a threat to poor farmers, the environment and human health.

People in developing countries today are consuming nearly twice as much milk, more than three times as much meat and five times as many eggs as they did five decades ago, according to the FAO report. Meanwhile, consumption of cereals and root crops has been fairly flat. The higher intake of livestock products, the report says, is the result of rising population, urbanization and increasing affluence in many parts of the world.

Weak institutions, inadequate regulations

Regulation Can't Keep Pace with Livestock
Regulation Can't Keep Pace with Livestock

Livestock help improve human nutrition, provide income and serve as a safety net for many poor farmers. But the industry's expansion has come at a cost, according to FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

"In many parts of the world," he says, "the rapid growth and transformation has occurred in a setting of weak institutions and inadequate regulations. This has given rise to systemic risks affecting livelihoods, the environment as well as human and animal health."

The FAO report points to the growth of large-scale, industrial operations that have pushed some small producers and pastoralists to the margins.  Bigger livestock herds are putting greater pressure on land resources and disrupting some ecosystems and the animals generate significant amounts of water and air pollution, including methane, a climate-changing greenhouse gas. Furthermore, livestock diseases, as well as food-borne and human diseases, are also mounting.

Problems beyond the developing world

Consumption of livestock products has increased rapidly in developing countries over the past decades, particularly from the 1980s onwards
Consumption of livestock products has increased rapidly in developing countries over the past decades, particularly from the 1980s onwards

The problems have not been limited to developing countries. Take, for example, the outbreaks of mad cow disease in Europe and swine flu in the United States. But Nicholas Minot at the International Food Policy Research Institute notes that these countries have relatively well-established regulatory systems to oversee livestock health, meat processing and food safety.

"The same problems exist in developing countries, but the institutional development of regulatory agencies lag[s] behind. And I think particularly given these high-profile disease outbreaks there is a tremendous interest in strengthening the diseases control and monitoring programs."

The FAO report says developing countries will need to strengthen disease control regulations, as well as improve environmental controls and minimize the dislocation of small farmers as the livestock industry continues to grow and concentrate into large-scale enterprises.

Finding the right balance

But FAO Assistant Director-General Hafez Ghanem cautions that government regulators need to weigh the full spectrum of economic, environmental, social and health issues associated with livestock production.

"For example," he says, "if you're only looking at the economic aspects of livestock production, that might lead to producing in ways that are harmful to the environment or harmful to health. It's obvious. On the other hand, if you only look at the environmental impact, you can hurt people's livelihoods."

Ghanem says that as the demand for livestock products continues to grow, governments need to consider these competing objectives and find the right balance.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid