Ezra Klein's commentary, "The Meat of the Problem” in the Washington Post, was “inaccurate and not scientifically based,” says J. Patrick Boyle, American Meat Institute president and cheif executive officer, in a recently published letter-to-the-editor in the paper.

Boyle’s letter notes that Klein’s use of the United Nations report, "Livestock's Long Shadow," as the foundation for his assertion that the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide misses the mark. A 2007 Environmental Protection Agency report concluded that only 2.8 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions came from animal agriculture. 

Boyle explains that attributing worldwide numbers for greenhouse gas emissions to the United States is not appropriate because the nation's livestock production systems differ notably in genetic selection, feeding practices and other technologies. “Assigning a percentage of global emissions to the U.S. system is misleading because the vast majority of global greenhouse gas emissions attributed to livestock production result from deforestation and the conversion of rain forests and other lands to crop or pasture land, which does not occur in the United States,” Boyle adds.  

Furthermore, since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. animal agriculture industry have remained nearly constant, while meat production increased by almost 50 percent, milk production by 16 percent and egg production by almost 33 percent.

“The animal-protein sector in the United States is environmentally and socially responsible, and we strive to provide the safest, most abundant and most wholesome product to consumers domestically and worldwide,” Boyle concludes.

View a copy of the letter in its entirety.