Knowledge for better food systems

Industrial animal agriculture and the SDGs

This policy briefing, by FCRN member Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming, argues that industrial animal agriculture will make it difficult to reach several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Peter Stevenson provided the following summary.

The briefing argues that industrial livestock production will make it very difficult to meet SDG 2 as its use of grain as feed threatens food security and it out-competes small-scale farmers so undermining their livelihoods. The high levels of consumption of red and processed meat that have been made possible in the West and some emerging economies by industrial production contribute to certain NCDs and so run counter to SDG 3. Industrial livestock production generally uses and pollutes more surface- and ground-water than grazing systems; this will make it hard to reach SDGs 6 (water) and 14 (aquatic ecosystems). Parts of SDG 2 (sustainable food production) and SDG 15 (terrestrial ecosystems) will be severely undermined by industrial animal agriculture which, through its huge demand for grain, has fuelled intensive crop production. This has led to soil degradation, overuse and pollution of water and biodiversity loss. The increasing demand for soy as feed and pasture for cattle leads to the expansion of farmland into forests and other important ecosystems. The briefing examines the changes needed to enable food and farming to play their part in meeting the SDGs.

Read the full report, Industrial animal agriculture will put several Sustainable Development Goals out of reach, here (PDF link). See also the Foodsource chapter Focus: the difficult livestock issue.

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