> [I like this one, even though I still stand to the vegetarian
> side. My vision is of a meatless world populated by farm animals for
> draft power, milk, processing of vegetable mass, and fun.]
> RESEARCHER SAYS LIVESTOCK NECESSARY FOR SUSTAINABLE
> John Ikerd, head of the University of Missouri's extension program
> on sustainable agriculture, suggests that animal agriculture may be
> necessary in achieving sustainable agriculture. He says that because
> animals can consume grasses and other forage that humans can't,
> land needed to sustain animals won't be put into production for
> grain, for instance, for human consumption. In addition, the use of
> animals in agriculture fosters waste management and nutrient
> recycling to assist in the successful regeneration of the land. Finally,
> he maintains that sustainable systems are modeled upon natural
> ecosystems and carnivorous predators are common in nearly every
> ecosystem in existence. "Predators, including human predators, are
> quite likely an important and necessary component of sustainable
> agriculture systems," Ikerd writes. "Those who would blame human
> starvation on animal agriculture are simply diverting attention from
> the real problems and challenges in building a sustainable world
I would just like to respond with some quick comments reflecting my personal
views regarding the impact of animal agriculture on ecosystems and human
starvation. The above statements seem to ignore the reality of modern
food animal production:
1. Somewhere between 80 and 90% of all grain grown in the U.S. is for
animal feed, and, if I remembel correctly from my readings, it takes
approximately 15 lbs. of grain to make 1 lb. of meat (beef at least) - not
very efficient. Whether one believes it to be a good idea or not, in light
of the worldwide overpopulation problem, many more people could be fed if this
grain were to be consumed directly by humans.
2. LOTS of water goes into meat production - an individual who refrains
from eating meat saves thousands of gallons per year.
3. Nutrient recycling is great, but the volume of animal waste produced is
many times more than can be put to use, and is a serious pollution problem.
4. I don't think the current average daily level of meat consumption ,at
least on the part of the majority of the industrialized world, can be
considered to be that of a natural predator. I don't believe we humans
were meant to consume meat on a daily basis - it was impossible in the
days before domestication of animals for food use, and the harmful effects
on health are well-known and all too evident.
I'm interested to see any other comments on this topic.