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Report: Another Reason to Go Meatless Today

PHOTO: An aerial view of a Texas feedlot. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization says large factory farms are increasing climate-changing pollution. Photo credit: Mishka Henner.
PHOTO: An aerial view of a Texas feedlot. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization says large factory farms are increasing climate-changing pollution. Photo credit: Mishka Henner.
September 30, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa - Observing "Meatless Monday" is not only good for your health and for animals, it's also good for the environment. A new report from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organizationhas reaffirmed what others have claimed: Livestock production is a major contributor to climate-changing pollution.

Geoff Orme-Evans, public policy manager, Humane Society International, said globalization and huge, concentrated factory farms are the reasons meat is cheaper and people are eating more of it. He said 70 billion land animals are raised for food every year around the globe - a number that is unprecedented.

"It's really a wake-up call and confirms what we already know: The sector is a huge contributor to climate change, and we need to start figuring out what to do about it," Orme-Evans said.

Orme-Evans pointed to several ways that today's massive animal farms affect the environment. One major problem is that having a large number of animals on a very small area of land creates a concentrated amount of animal waste, he said.

"There can be really bad effects to the waterways; there have been fish die-offs; and in addition, there are climate change effects," he warned.

Other contributing factors to pollution are gases produced from manure storage, fertilizer production, and in some cases, deforestation to create more pasture, he said, as well as the energy required to transport animals, meat and dairy products.

While the report offers some solutions to the pollution caused by livestock, Orme-Evans noted that individuals can take steps, including buying locally produced foods and eating less meat. Giving up meat just one day a week, he added, is the equivalent of driving about 1,000 fewer miles a year.

The report, "Tackling Climate Change through Livestock," is available at www.fao.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA