Animal Product Consumption a Key Option Discussed at Rio+20 Forum
A report entitled “Our Nutrient World: The challenge to produce more food & energy with less pollution” 1 was recently presented by leading scientists and policy makers at the Rio+20 summit. The report identified the key threats to water, air, soil, climate, and biodiversity from excess nitrogen and phosphorus released into the environment by the agricultural, transportation, and industrial sectors. “A new global effort is needed to reduce nutrient losses and improve overall nutrient use efficiency in all sectors, simultaneously providing the foundation for a Greener Economy to produce more food and energy while reducing environmental pollution, ” the study concludes. While a growing and increasingly prosperous global human population demands more food and energy, we will need to be smarter about how we produce and consume. Importantly, reducing per capita meat consumption was among the nine specific recommendations identified:
1. Improving nutrient use efficiency in crop production,
2. Improving nutrient use efficiency in animal production,
3. Increasing the fertilizer equivalence value of animal manure,
Transport and Industry
4. Low-emission combustion and energy-efficient systems, including renewable sources,
5. Development of NOx capture and utilization technology,
Waste & Recycling
6. Improving nutrient efficiency in food supply and reducing food waste,
7. Recycling nitrogen and phosphorus from waste water systems, in cities, agriculture and industry,
Societal consumption patterns
8. Energy and transport saving,
9. Lowering the human consumption of animal protein (avoiding excess).
The report emphasized that our choices as citizens make a big difference. While some remain undernourished, people in many countries eat more animal products than is optimal for a healthy diet. Avoiding over-consumption of animal products reduces pollution from the agricultural sector, while also benefiting our health.
Eric A. Davidson
President and Senior Scientist
The Woods Hole Research Center
1Our Nutrient World. The challenge to produce more food & energy with less pollution. Key Messages for Rio+20.
Authors: Sutton M.A., Bleeker A., Howard C.M., Erisman J.W., Abrol Y.P., Bekunda M., Datta A., Davidson E.A., de Vries W., Oenema O. and Zhang F.S., including contributions from: Adhya T.K., Billen G., Bustamante M., Chen D., Diaz R., Galloway J.N., Garnier J., Greenwood S., Grizzetti B., Kilaparti R., Liu X.J., Palm C., Plocq Fichelet V., Raghuram N., Reis. S., Roy A., Sachdev M., Sanders K., Scholz R.W., Sims T., Westhoek, H., Yan X.Y., Zhang Y.
Published by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology on behalf of the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) and the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI). June 2012 ISBN 978-1-906698-33-1