Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Animal issues

Since the agricultural revolution which began around 12,500 years ago, humans have domesticated animals to serve their needs, and hunted others from the wild. For the food system animals have been essential as a source of food, labour, and organic fertilizer while ownership of animals may also have cultural, economic or symbolic import. Industrial farming techniques have allowed for large scale production of animal products, which has raised new ethical concerns about their welfare and more fundamentally about the morality of using animals for human purposes. The resource-intense nature of livestock production has attracted attention from researchers, civil society and policymakers alike. Finally, zoonotic diseases, those which can be spread between animals and humans, are a common source of human infection.

Image: Viva Granda Photography, Friendly Calf, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
20 February 2018

A new study shows that individual dairy calves have a tendency to be pessimistic or optimistic, with more fearful calves tending to be more pessimistic.

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Image: Angus MacAskill, Japanese knotweed 2, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
20 February 2018

A perspective piece and an editorial have featured in the same edition of Biological Conservation (March 2018): both tackle a recent debate among conservation biologists as to whether at a local level biodiversity or species richness is changing and in what direction.

Image: Dean Morley, Cricket, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
13 February 2018

Insects may not be the environmentally-friendly alternative protein source that the FAO and many entrepreneurs hope, according to Oxford University doctoral candidate Joshua Evans.

Image: cuatork77, ROOSTERS, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
6 February 2018

Ikea has introduced a “Better Chicken Programme” aimed at improving animal welfare in the supply chains for its in-store cafes.

22 January 2018

At the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) 2018, the director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) spoke about the need for lower emissions from the livestock industry. In addition to efficiency gains, Graziano da Silva suggested that governments target the demand side with policies that reduce meat and dairy consumption. He said that alternative sources of protein, such as fish and pulses, are available and should be used.

13 January 2018

This report by Dutch bank ING considers the potential for a protein shift away from animal to plant protein. It finds that a quarter of EU consumers expects to eat less meat in five years’ time, mainly because of the concerns about the associated negative health effects. In addition, it poses that a further shift in consumer preferences is likely as the level of innovation in alternative protein is high and governments are increasingly concerned about the carbon footprint of diets.

14 November 2017

The new report by World Wildlife Fund, Appetite for Destruction, highlights the vast amount of land that is needed to grow the crops used for animal feed, including in some of the planet’s most vulnerable areas such as the Amazon, Congo Basin and the Himalayas.

Photo: Stanze, Young male Charolais cattle, Flickr, CC by 2.0
14 November 2017

A new paper titled Distributions of emissions intensity for individual beef cattle reared on pasture-production systems details a new method, developed at the North Wyke Farm Platform, of assessing grazing livestock impacts and benefits at the level of individual animals.

25 September 2017

This book on farm animal welfare, edited by Nicky Amos and Rory Sullivan, explores animal welfare in the context of the corporate world. It analyses the key barriers to companies adopting higher standards of farm animal welfare, and offers a series of practical recommendations for those aiming to raise farm animal welfare standards across the food industry.

25 September 2017

This is a revised edition of a book on meat production edited by Joyce D'Silva and John Webster. Since its first edition in 2010, all chapters have been updated and six new chapters have been added .

Figure 1: Photo Credit: Franchise Opportunities, a pet's food and water bowl, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
6 September 2017

In a paper in PLOS One, researcher Gregory Okin suggests that the diets of carnivorous pets, like cats and dogs, have a significant impact on climate change. He estimates that in the U.S. alone, cats and dogs are responsible for 25-30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the country. In the U.S. there are 163 million cats and dogs, which together eat as much food as all the people in France. Okin found that to feed these animals the US releases 64 million tons of CO2.

Figure 2: Photo Credit, PepOmint, Maple Leaf, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
29 August 2017

Maple Leaf Foods, one of Canada’s largest food manufacturers, has declared that it wants to become “the most sustainable protein company on earth”. With aims to improve nutrition, environmental sustainability, animal care and corporate responsibility, CEO Michael M. McCain released a statement saying that “Our food system has drifted from its roots, to nourish wellbeing, to farm sustainably, to view food as a universal good for all. We must serve the world better.”

Photo credit: Isaac Wedin, Salmon face, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
29 August 2017

After a 25 year wait for approval, approximately five tons of genetically modified (GM) salmon have been sold in Canada in the last few months. The fish, which contains genes from Chinook salmon and ocean pout, can grow twice as fast as an Atlantic salmon and requires 75% less feed to grow to the same size. These changes can ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of each genetically modified salmon by up to 25 times, the company claims.

19 July 2017

The world’s largest agricultural commodities supplier,  Cargill, obtained its highest profit in six years based on an increasing demand for meat. Animal nutrition and protein were the largest contributor to quarterly earnings for the company.

13 July 2017

The EU40’s Animal Taskforce has produced a short report which outlines a proposed roadmap to supporting the EU livestock sector towards more sustainable practices.

Photo: Oregon State University, Oregon dairy cows, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
16 May 2017

This research measures dairy cows’ motivation to access the outdoors. The results show cows are highly motivated for outdoor access. The majority of the cows in this experiment pushed through a weighted gate at least as hard to access pasture as they did to access fresh feed.

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