The food industry worldwide is responsible for one third of all gases emitted by human activity with an effect on global warming, with the production of meat and animals for slaughter standing out for generating 60% of these harmful emissions to the climate of the country. planet – according to a new study, published in the scientific journal “Nature Food”.
“Emissions are at a higher limit than we expected, even for us it was a surprise”, considers Atul Jain, a climate scientist at the University of Illinois in the USA and co-author of the article in “Nature Food”.
The researchers found that meat production generates twice as much greenhouse gases compared to the production of food of plant origin, and that just one kilo of beef is responsible for 70 kilos of these emissions, while one kilo of wheat emits only 2.5 kilos.
“This study shows the entire cycle of the food production system and policymakers may want to use these results to think about the best way to control greenhouse gas emissions,” says the scientist at the University of Illinois.
Beef is the most problematic for the climate
The new study found that the entire food production system, including the use of agricultural machinery, spraying fertilizers or transporting products, causes 17.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. This volume represents more than double of all emissions generated in the United States, and 35% of global emissions.
The most problematic part is actually the production of meat, with the raising and slaughter of animals, especially cattle, with a high impact on the environment and climate compared, for example, to the processing of fruit.
According to the study, the production of cows, pigs and other animals for food, in addition to their feed, is responsible for 57% of all emissions caused by food production, with 29% coming from the cultivation of products based on plants, with the remainder originating from other land uses, such as cotton or rubber.
Beef alone is responsible for a quarter of the emissions produced by the production and cultivation of food. Scientists also point out that grazing animals need a lot of land, which often has to be cleared for this purpose. it is estimated that most of the arable land in the world is used to feed livestock, which also produce large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas.
For the authors of the study, societies should be aware of these discrepancies in the food industry, which directly impact the planet’s climate. “I am a strict vegetarian, and part of the motivation for this study was to discover my own carbon footprint. The goal is not to force people to change their diets, which is a personal choice, but whether people are concerned about the changes, they should seriously consider changing their eating habits,” Atul Jain told “The Guardian”.
The researchers built a database, which allows a consistent profile of emissions generated by 171 different crops and 16 types of animal productions, with data from more than 200 countries. The conclusion is that South America is the region of the globe with the largest share of animal food emissions, followed by South and Southeast Asia, and then China.
The study’s calculations on the impact of meat on the climate far surpass previous estimates, namely those of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which had stated that about 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions came from production. of meat and milk.
Source: Expresso by expresso.pt.
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