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Beyond Factory Farming: report - Compassion in World Farming

Beyond Factory Farming: report - Compassion in World Farming


China is the world’s most populous countryand by 2050 will be the world’s largesteconomy. Climate change is predicted to causea net decrease in agricultural output, with thenorth and northwest particularly vulnerable. 12By 2050, the yields of rain-fed wheat, maizeand rice could be reduced by as much as 20%,22% and 14% respectively. For irrigated cropsthe reductions would be as much as 7%, 11%and 12% for wheat, maize and ricerespectively. Hotter temperatures will meanthat 28% more water will be required forgrowing winter wheat and up to 18% morewater for growing summer maize in NorthChina. The additional demand for irrigationwater will exacerbate the existing watershortage in that area. 108 In India and SouthAsia the yield of irrigated wheat and ricecould be down by as much as 22% and 34%respectively. In India, 62% of the croppedarea is dependent on rainfall, meaning thatthe impacts of climate change on agricultureare critical. 109A changing climate brings unstable and lesspredictable weather, which is usually badfor agricultural production. By the 2080stemperatures are predicted to fluctuate fromyear to year by up to half the total expectedtemperature rise. 106 North America is theworld’s major producer of maize (corn),wheat and soya, the main components ofconcentrate livestock feeds. In 2008 theUnited States Climate Change ScienceProgram and the Subcommittee on GlobalChange Research predicted that extremeevents such as droughts, heavy rains, excessiveheat and intense hurricanes are likely tobecome more frequent in North America asglobal GHG emissions increase. 110Climate change will take its toll on the world’sfood supply. Heat stress will affect both cropand livestock production. In the tropics andsub-tropics, studies predict that crop yields willfall by between 2.5% and 16% for every 1ºCincrease in temperature in the growingseason. Local disruptions in supply can easilybecome global and destabilise world foodprices. The possible result by the end of the21st century is that ‘global food security willbe severely jeopardised’ according to UnitedStates scientists writing in the internationaljournal Science in 2009. 32The projected doubling of livestockproduction by mid-century would thereforetake place at a time when there is a grave riskof decreasing crop production due to climaterelatedlosses. Every additional kilogrammeof meat produced will require severalkilogrammes of these decreasing grains andother crops for animal feeds.A food strategy based on expanding intensivelivestock production at a time of climatechange would be contrary to all our aims forsustainability, at the very least. At the worstit could be a road to disaster. We can preparefor the effects of future climate change onagriculture by investing in technologicalmeasures such as plant breeding andimprovements in sustainable cultivationmethods. However, it is clear that a majorcontribution could be made by reducingmeat consumption, particularly in developedcountries, which would free up land andcrops for human consumption.7.4 Water scarcityClimate change is forcing us to make choicesabout the priorities for using water. Freshwater is scarce in many regions of the world;up to two billion people currently suffer fromwater scarcity. Competition for water is alreadyintense in regions where supplies areinadequate to meet all the demands ofhouseholds, agriculture and industry. 111, 112 TheUN Secretary General has warned that watershould be a top environmental priority in orderto avoid future conflicts over water supplies. 13The International Water ManagementInstitute (IWMI) Comprehensive Assessmentof 2007 was made over five years of study by700 scientists from around the world. Theirassessment asked the question: will there beenough water to produce food for a growingpopulation in the next 50 years? The answerwas: ‘It is possible to produce the food – but itis probable that today’s food production andenvironmental trends, if continued, will leadto crises in many parts of the world.’ 112 In 2008the IWMI concluded that, ‘Considering waterscarcity constraints, it’s vitally important toconsider what are realistic levels of foodproduction and the desirable levels andcomposition of food consumption.’ 7Intensive animal production is wasteful ofwater, for the same reason that it is wastefulof good cropland. Water has to be used togrow several kilogrammes of feed in orderto produce just 1 kg of meat.40BEYOND FACTORY FARMINGSustainable Solutions for Animals, People and the Planet

Increasing populations, increasing incomesand higher consumption of calories and ofmeat have resulted in the human populationtaking three times more from rivers than wedid 50 years ago. 112 The level of water inaquifers is ‘declining rapidly in denselypopulated areas of North Africa, North China,India, and Mexico because of overexploitation’according to the International WaterManagement Institute. Some rivers no longerhave enough water to reach the sea. 112Rising global temperatures are expected toincrease water stress by 2050. According toa technical report for the IPCC on water andclimate change, the number of people inwater-stressed river basins (already over twobillion) is likely to increase to between fourand nearly seven billion by 2050, more thanhalf the world’s population. 111 By the 2050s,the area of land subject to increasing waterstress due to climate change is projected tobe more than double the area that willexperience decreasing water stress. 111 In thesecircumstances, livestock production will bea likely contributor to human conflict overwater resources.The projected doubling of livestockproduction by mid-century is likely to impactwater use severely, even in the absence ofclimate change. Water use for all crops (food,feed and fibre) could almost double onpresent trends by 2050, from 7000 km 3 a yearto 13,000 km 3 , according to the InternationalWater Management Institute. 7 The use ofwater for livestock production is projectedto increase by 50% up to 2025 alone. 92Although feed accounts for most of the waterused, animals also need large quantities ofdrinking water and their requirement risesconsiderably at higher temperature. At atemperature of 35ºC a lactating sow requiresnearly 47 litres a day (approximately the sameas the daily minimum need of a person), and alactating cow requires nearly 127 litres a day. 92Water management scientists are well awareof the role of intensive animal production inincreasing the demand for water. Accordingto a 2008 report from the International WaterManagement Institute on saving water, ‘Theproduction of meat from animals fed onirrigated crops has a direct impact on waterresources, much more so than if the meat isderived from grazing animals and animals fedon [crop] residues.’ 7 Researchers at UNESCOand the University of Twente have concludedthat a high level of meat consumption isone of the main factors in increasing thewater footprint of any individual country. 2Research on water use and food in Chinahas concluded that the increase in meatconsumption is a major cause of the watershortages that exist in that country. Increasedconsumption of meat has resulted in a 3.4-foldincrease in the amount of water needed perperson for food in China since the early 1960s.Writing in the journal Nature in 2008,researchers in water science institutes inSwitzerland and the Netherlands concludethat: ‘In China, changing food-consumptionpatterns are the main cause of the worseningwater scarcity. If other developing countriesfollow China’s trend towards protein-richWestern diets, the global water shortagewill become still more severe.’ 113In arid areas of the world where rainfall orsoil moisture is inadequate, freshwater is usedfor irrigation of food, feed and other crops.Agriculture (mostly irrigation) accounts forabout 70% of all human uses of freshwater. 92On the basis of our present populationgrowth, human demand for freshwater by2050 will be more than two-thirds of theworld’s total freshwater resources that areaccessible today. 1 This means that in 2050agriculture as a whole could be using nearlyhalf of the world’s entire freshwater resources.Livestock feed consumes around 15% of theworld’s irrigation water and in areas of waterscarcity the use of freshwater on feed cropscan have a severe impact on water resources.The FAO has concluded: ‘It is clear that feedproduction consumes large amounts ofcritically important water resources andcompetes with other usages and users.’ 92Intensive animal production is a much lessefficient use of water than extensive animalproduction on rain-fed natural pasture.In a time of water scarcity it becomesincreasingly difficult to justify using eithergood rain-fed arable land or scarce irrigationwater for growing feed crops for factoryfarms. Large amounts of water could besaved globally by moving away fromintensive livestock production.Sustainable Solutions for Animals, People and the Planet BEYOND FACTORY FARMING41

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