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.

26 March 2018

This report from the UK NGO Sustainable Food Trust shows that one in three small abattoirs in the UK have closed in the last decade, which could mean that marketing locally-produced, traceable meat will not be possible in some areas.

Image: Memphis Meats Press Kit, Southern Fried Chicken
19 March 2018

Social scientist and co-founder of the Sentience Institute Jacy Reese discusses public attitudes to diets and the potential of lab-cultured meat to end animal farming, as well as possible pitfalls.

Image: Pete, The Cows…, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
19 March 2018

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have sequenced the genomes of 913 types of microbes found inside cows’ digestive systems, hoping to discover more about the types of enzymes that the microbes use to break down the food.

19 March 2018

Author Barry Estabrook explores the American pork industry in search of more responsible production systems.

19 March 2018

The 2017 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare report analyses farm animal welfare management and performance of 110 global food companies, including retailers, wholesalers, food producers, restaurants and bars.

Image: david pacey, Piglets, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
6 March 2018

In this blog post for the Food Ethics Council, ffinlo Costain describes different ways of measuring farm animal welfare.

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Image: Andrew, New Laund Breakfast, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
6 March 2018

This study, undertaken by researchers at Michigan State University and the Union of Concerned Scientists, compares the net greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of two different beef finishing systems in the Upper Midwest, of the United States: a feedlot system; and a grazing system based on adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing principles.

6 March 2018

The FAO has just published a briefing paper which proposes three ways to substantially reduce emissions from livestock production.

Image: USDA, 20130920-OC-LSC-0594, Flickr, Public Domain
26 February 2018

Three letters have been published in a recent edition of PNAS criticising the assumptions and conclusions drawn by a 2017 paper which sought to quantify the greenhouse gas (GHG) and nutritional implications of completely eliminating animals from US agriculture. A rebuttal letter by the authors of the original 2017 paper appears alongside the three letters in the journal.

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.

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