Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Animal issues

Since the agricultural revolution which began around 12,500 years ago, humans have domesticated animals to serve their needs, and hunted others from the wild. For the food system animals have been essential as a source of food, labour, and organic fertilizer while ownership of animals may also have cultural, economic or symbolic import. Industrial farming techniques have allowed for large scale production of animal products, which has raised new ethical concerns about their welfare and more fundamentally about the morality of using animals for human purposes. The resource-intense nature of livestock production has attracted attention from researchers, civil society and policymakers alike. Finally, zoonotic diseases, those which can be spread between animals and humans, are a common source of human infection.

25 September 2017

This book on farm animal welfare, edited by Nicky Amos and Rory Sullivan, explores animal welfare in the context of the corporate world. It analyses the key barriers to companies adopting higher standards of farm animal welfare, and offers a series of practical recommendations for those aiming to raise farm animal welfare standards across the food industry.

25 September 2017

This is a revised edition of a book on meat production edited by Joyce D'Silva and John Webster. Since its first edition in 2010, all chapters have been updated and six new chapters have been added .

Figure 1: Photo Credit: Franchise Opportunities, a pet's food and water bowl, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
6 September 2017

In a paper in PLOS One, researcher Gregory Okin suggests that the diets of carnivorous pets, like cats and dogs, have a significant impact on climate change. He estimates that in the U.S. alone, cats and dogs are responsible for 25-30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the country. In the U.S. there are 163 million cats and dogs, which together eat as much food as all the people in France. Okin found that to feed these animals the US releases 64 million tons of CO2.

Figure 2: Photo Credit, PepOmint, Maple Leaf, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
29 August 2017

Maple Leaf Foods, one of Canada’s largest food manufacturers, has declared that it wants to become “the most sustainable protein company on earth”. With aims to improve nutrition, environmental sustainability, animal care and corporate responsibility, CEO Michael M. McCain released a statement saying that “Our food system has drifted from its roots, to nourish wellbeing, to farm sustainably, to view food as a universal good for all. We must serve the world better.”

Photo credit: Isaac Wedin, Salmon face, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
29 August 2017

After a 25 year wait for approval, approximately five tons of genetically modified (GM) salmon have been sold in Canada in the last few months. The fish, which contains genes from Chinook salmon and ocean pout, can grow twice as fast as an Atlantic salmon and requires 75% less feed to grow to the same size. These changes can ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of each genetically modified salmon by up to 25 times, the company claims.

19 July 2017

The world’s largest agricultural commodities supplier,  Cargill, obtained its highest profit in six years based on an increasing demand for meat. Animal nutrition and protein were the largest contributor to quarterly earnings for the company.

13 July 2017

The EU40’s Animal Taskforce has produced a short report which outlines a proposed roadmap to supporting the EU livestock sector towards more sustainable practices.

Photo: Oregon State University, Oregon dairy cows, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
16 May 2017

This research measures dairy cows’ motivation to access the outdoors. The results show cows are highly motivated for outdoor access. The majority of the cows in this experiment pushed through a weighted gate at least as hard to access pasture as they did to access fresh feed.

Photo: Lablascovegmenu, vegan fried rice, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
25 April 2017

BBC’s Claudia Hammond and Tim Cockerill hosted an event at the Wellcome Collection that can now be listened to online.

Photo © Dave Smith via Flickr
24 March 2017

This research article provides a new quantitative analysis of data on global feed use and feed use efficiency by livestock, in order to help shed light on livestock’s role in food security.

7 March 2017

This report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) and commissioned by UK’s Eating Better Alliance looks at future policies towards livestock farming and trade in the UK and EU.

8 February 2017

This report by Compassion for World Farming discusses the potential effects of a reduction in meat consumption in relation to the difference between ruminants such as cows and monogastrics such as pigs and poultry.

17 January 2017

This report by the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future presents itself as the ‘first international landscape assessment of industrial food animal production (IFAP) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to focus on trends in food animal production, related domestic and international policies, environmental and public health impacts and animal welfare.’

10 January 2017

The FCRN’s Tara Garnett gave a short presentation at an event held in November by the Sustainable Food Trust. The question posed was ‘Do livestock hold the key to a healthy planet and population?’ 

10 January 2017

This report, entitled ‘What’s at Steak? The Real Cost of Meat’ published by the Global Forest Coalition in December 2016, emphasises the negative impact of industrial livestock production on forests, using five detailed case studies, in BoliviaBrazilIndiaParaguay, and Russia. In South America, for example, the report states that 71% of deforestation in the region has been driven by demand for livestock products.

15 December 2016

Twenty-four cross-party European parliament members, together with HSI’s Planting Fresh Ideas, wrote a letter to the European Commission President, First Vice President, and Commissioners, with policy recommendations for reducing EU consumption of animal-based foods.

Photo credit: Sam Beebe, Cows n Canoe, Flickr, Creative Commons licence 2.0
3 November 2016

A chance discovery was made in Canada 11 years ago, when it was observed that cattle in a paddock near the sea are more productive. This led to research showing that feeding cows seaweed not only helped improve their health and growth, but also reduced their enteric methane emissions by about 20%.

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