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Page added on September 15, 2017

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Food or Feed? A New Look at the Global Grain Drain

Consumption

The use of grains such as corn and wheat to feed cattle, chicken, sheep, and other animals destined for human meat consumption has been maligned for decades as wasteful, inefficient, and even unethical. Those grains, after all, could be used to feed hundreds of millions of hungry people, and livestock need to consume large amounts of feed to produce a smaller amount of meat — with anywhere from 7 to 10 kilograms of grain needed per kilogram of meat yield, by some estimates.

It takes a lot of grain to produce a smaller amount of meat — but perhaps not as much grain as once thought.

Visual by Lukas Budimaier/Unsplash

But this feed versus food debate has been skewed, a recent analysis suggests, in part because it was unclear exactly how much the typical livestock diet consists of hay, straw, leaves, stalks, stubble, and other crop residues that humans don’t eat.

For starters, livestock eat a total of 6 billion metric tons of feed annually, the scientists found. They arrived at this figure by running a high-resolution spatial model that simulates livestock production on a new database describing global feed rations for six species — cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens — as well as types of land use such as pastures and ranges, and other factors.

That annual feed figure is huge, but the team of researchers led by Anne Mottet, an agronomist with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which funded the study, found that 86 percent of it is not edible by humans. The world’s livestock also require less feed per kilogram of meat yield than previously estimated — in the range of 3 kilograms on average, the analysis suggested.

If follow-up studies bear this out, the findings could guide policymakers aiming to make food systems more efficient as the world’s population is set to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. With that growth, demand for meat is expected to rise. It’s a high-calorie, high-protein food that also provides key nutrients such as iron, Vitamin A and Vitamin B12, which are harder to get from strictly plant-based diet.

Some of the confusion about meat came from a lack of precise information about the diets of the full diversity of the world’s livestock animals, the researchers wrote in the September issue of the journal Global Food Security. And critics typically assume that all meat is produced on intensive farms, such as feedlot cattle, without considering smaller or backyard farms with domesticated pigs or chickens and farms that let animals graze.

It’s clear that more livestock will be raised globally in the coming decades, which certainly will require more feed and vast swaths of additional land for grazing and growing the crops to generate feed. But there is plenty of room for improvement in the efficient use of feed for animals, Mottet says. Combinations of genetic selection, better veterinary care and changes to diets have already significantly increased milk yields from dairy cows and reduced the amount of feed required to raise the yield of meat from chicken, turkeys, and pigs, the authors wrote. Human food waste could also be turned into feed for animals.

Nonetheless, Mottet hints that it would also help the global effort to ensure enough food for all in the future if voracious carnivores cut back on burgers and other meat. “Balanced diets are part of the solution, whether this means more animal products where consumption is too low with regard to nutritional recommendations,” she says, “or less in some parts of the world where people eat too much already.”

UNDARK



14 Comments on "Food or Feed? A New Look at the Global Grain Drain"

  1. Apneaman on Fri, 15th Sep 2017 12:45 pm 

    Just put the groceries on the credit card along with the completely unnecessary, jet setting, canned corporate vacations and closets & garages full of barely used consumer crap (dead dopamine hits), excessive restaurant visits & $400 NHL tickets. When the credit is maxed out, refi the house and carry on like a good little cancer.

    Canada’s household debt burden hits record

    “Statscan says household credit market debt as a proportion of household disposable income rose to 167.8 per cent in the second quarter, up from 166.6 per cent in the previous three-month period.”

    https://tgam.ca/2ycW2dK

  2. Sissyfuss on Fri, 15th Sep 2017 1:55 pm 

    Well, the feed equation seems weighted more positively. Now can we do something about the bovine flatulence. They tried butt plugs but too many farmers were losing their eyesight.

  3. Apneaman on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 10:09 am 

    Grower group says Irma caused 50 to 70 percent citrus loss in portions of South Florida

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/13/grower-group-says-irma-citrus-toll-50-to-70-percent-in-south-florida.html

    How A Warm Winter Destroyed 85 Percent Of Georgia’s Peaches

    “As temperatures rise globally because of climate change, Georgia is not the only part of the country where warm winters are causing trouble for farmers. California’s cherry crop took a hit in 2014 because of a warm, dry winter. And in 2012, after a warm February and March brought early blooms, Michigan’s apple crop was decimated by an April frost.”

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-a-warm-winter-destroyed-85-percent-of-georgias-peaches/

    At AGW we don’t make things, we make things worse.

  4. Cloggie on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 10:18 am 

    Climate Lenin-wannabee says: Grower group says Irma caused 50 to 70 percent citrus loss in portions of South Florida

    That’s it with Irma?

    Yawn.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/11/us/storm-surge-irma-flooding.html?mcubz=0

    http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-irma-bonita-springs-20170911-story.html

  5. Apneaman on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 11:25 am 

    World hunger is on the rise again due to climate change and war

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2147570-world-hunger-is-on-the-rise-again-due-to-climate-change-and-war/

  6. Apneaman on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 4:21 pm 

    Paul Schrader on the Extinction of the Human Race and His New Film ‘First Reformed’

    “It’s no surprise that Paul Schrader, a filmmaker associated with such dark classics as “Taxi Driver” and “American Gigolo,” has a pessimistic streak. But it’s still bracing to hear him argue that humanity, as we know it, is unlikely to last through the next century.”

    “I would think that homo sapiens as we know them will not outlive this century.”

    “Is there any reason to be hopeful or are we just screwed?

    Anyone who is hopeful is simply not paying attention.There may have been a reason to be hopeful ten or 15 years ago, but we’ve played our hand now. We’ve indicated what our priorities are. Our priorities are our immediate comforts and not the existence of future generations. I don’t think intelligent life will end with humans. There may even be moral life after humans. But we have more or less soiled our nest. The universe will be well rid of us.”

    http://variety.com/2017/film/news/paul-schrader-first-reformed-toronto-film-festival-1202560593/

    “I would think that homo sapiens as we know them will not outlive this century.”

    Sound familiar? A handful of prominent people have expressed their opinion with respect to near term human extinction, but there are many more in the closet.

  7. Cloggie on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 4:54 pm 

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Schrader

    “A recurring theme in Schrader’s films is the protagonist on a self-destructive path,”

    A person with dark psychological issues. Just like apneaman.

  8. Davy on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 5:08 pm 

    “Anyone who is hopeful is simply not paying attention. There may have been a reason to be hopeful ten or 15 years ago, but we’ve played our hand now. We’ve indicated what our priorities are. Our priorities are our immediate comforts and not the existence of future generations.”

    Clog, what part of the above can’t you relate to? I think you are the one with the “dark psychological issues”. You remind me of what your buddy was thinking and denying as the Russians were closing in. The rumble of the bombs punctuated his fantasy of all is well but he still believed a fantasy SS division would save the day until the very end.

  9. Apneaman on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 5:18 pm 

    clogFreud get your wiki ready so you can do another 45 second internet psychoanalysis on Frank Fenner.

    Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist

    “(PhysOrg.com) — Eminent Australian scientist Professor Frank Fenner, who helped to wipe out smallpox, predicts humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction and climate change.

    Fenner, who is emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, said homo sapiens will not be able to survive the population explosion and “unbridled consumption,” and will become extinct, perhaps within a century, along with many other species.”

    Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2010-06-humans-extinct-years-eminent-scientist.html#jCp

  10. Apneaman on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 5:48 pm 

    Bushfires and record temperatures herald arrival of forecast spring heat

    Sydney logs hottest September day on record, Hunter Valley bushfires threaten houses and bureau warns of worse to come

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/13/bushfires-and-record-temperatures-herald-arrival-of-forecast-spring-heat

  11. Cloggie on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 6:00 pm 

    “You remind me of what your buddy was thinking and denying as the Russians were closing in. The rumble of the bombs punctuated his fantasy of all is well but he still believed a fantasy SS division would save the day until the very end.”

    You are talking about things you do not understand other than the simpleton ideas Hollywood pumped in your brain. Your “understanding” of WW2 is pathetic.

  12. Davy on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 6:12 pm 

    Guess I hit that sweet spot. Lol

  13. makati1 on Sat, 16th Sep 2017 6:21 pm 

    Careful Davy, your insanity is showing.

  14. shortonoil on Sun, 17th Sep 2017 2:29 pm 

    “Well, the feed equation seems weighted more positively. Now can we do something about the bovine flatulence. They tried butt plugs but too many farmers were losing their eyesight.”

    +++++++++

    For efficiency nothing beats a chicken. They are a 75 million year old food to meat machine, and to them anything is food.

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