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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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