The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) and the American Meat Institute (AMI) have just launched the fourth installment of seven new myth-crushing videos which aims to set the record straight about myths associated with the environmental impact of meat production.
The video, featuring Judith Capper, associate professor, department of animal sciences, Washington State University, corrects a quote from a 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) study often cited by groups with an anti-animal agriculture agenda. The erroneous FAO statement claims “Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouses gases, a bigger share than transport.”
This error went largely unchallenged for several years until Frank Mitloehner at the University of California Davis, examined the FAO claim and discovered the calculation was based on an unequal application of lifecycle assessments. The video points out that the truth is far less than claimed by the FAO.
The livestock sector’s true contribution to GHG emissions in the United States is slightly more than three percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Capper says that in the United States, all animal agriculture contributes just 3.4 percent of the total greenhouse gasses and cattle are responsible for only 2.7 percent.
“Beef has made an incredible contribution over the last 30 years,” Capper notes. “Advances in management, nutrition, genetics, health and welfare - all of these things have made our farms more productive, more efficient. We’ve cut the total carbon footprint per pound of beef by 18 percent.
“Consumers are being bombarded with anti-animal agriculture messages,” Capper said in a recent presentation on the environmental impact of livestock production. She added that in the U.S. pork industry, the number of sows in the U.S. has declined by 18 percent while the productivity of each sow has grown.
Capper says that by increasing animal productivity, animal agriculture can continue to reduce its carbon footprint. “Wherever efficiency improves economics, it also improves environmental impact.”