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.

29 April 2015

This research suggests that attitudes towards the use of insects in animal feed and resulting livestock products are generally positive. The paper finds that of those interviewed (farmers, agriculture sector stakeholders and citizens in Belgium), two thirds accept the idea of using insects in animal feed, and in particularly feel positively towards their potential role in improving the sustainability of animal diets.

19 April 2015

The Sustainable Food Trust recently held an event to discuss the question: ‘What role for grazing livestock in a world of climate change and diet-related disease?’

19 April 2015

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) reports that the Australian beef industry has reduced its environmental footprint over the past 30 years. The results are presented in a new paper in Agricultural Systems, and in a press-release MLA writes that:

31 March 2015

This article from Global Meat News describes projections for beef, pork, poultry and sheep and lamb based on the latest European Commission Short Term Outlook for EU arable crops, dairy and meat markets in 2015 and 2016. Beef production is said to increase by 2% this year due to the expansion of the EU dairy­ and suckler­cow herd.

31 March 2015

This paper estimates that global use of antimicrobial drugs in animal farming is anticipated to rise by 67% by 2030, due to increasing demand for animal products and a shift towards more large scale intensive systems of production. It argues that a range of measures need to be taken in order to address the negative impacts of this growth.

18 March 2015

A question that emerged from FCRN's previous discussions with various experts on animal farming was whether breeding for productivity and animal welfare can be aligned.

16 January 2015

Late December last year Tara Garnett, researcher on food systems and climate change and coordinator of the FCRN, initiated a meeting that brought together Marian Dawkins, Prof in Animal Behaviour at Oxford University, Jude Capper, researcher and livestock sustainability consultant who has worked mainly in the US, and Elin Röös, Swedish LCA researcher and the initiator of the Swedish Meat Guide,  for an informal discussion on the subject of sustainable intensification of agriculture and what that entails for the animal welfare of farm animals.

2 October 2014

BBSRC - Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has released a report on sustainable intensification (SI) together with an invitation for interested parties to comment. Responses received will be taken into account in addressing the group’s recommendations.

15 September 2014

This report, Farm animal welfare: Past, present and future, looks back at how farm animal welfare assurance schemes have developed over the past 20 years, and assesses potential future development of such schemes.

22 July 2014

The Animal Health & GHG Emissions Intensity Network is a UK-led initiative of the Livestock Research Group of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA).  It aims to bring researchers from across the world together to investigate links and synergies between efforts to reduce livestock disease and reduce the intensity of livestock related GHG emissions. The network’s first workshop was held in Dublin on the 25th March 2014.

2 May 2014

This study models two policies for increasing cattle ranching productivity in Brazil in order to analyse whether intensification of pasture-based cattle ranching would allow for rainforest protection and further enable Brazil to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and improve agricultural productivity.

10 April 2014

Since this is a complex but very interesting paper, we’ve put together a more detailed summary and explanation of the paper’s approach and findings, together with some comments in this document here.  Our summary and commentary draws upon some very helpful insights from Professor Pete Smith at the University of Aberdeen and includes some useful commentary from Dr Marco Springmann at the University of Oxford – thanks to both.

9 April 2014

This very interesting paper essentially argues that policies designed to incentivise production efficiencies achieve greater GHG reductions than those focusing on consumption. Moreover they do so at lower calorie ‘cost’ than consumption side measures. The abstract is given below, but we’ve produced some further explanation of the paper’s approach and findings, together with some comments in Our summary and commentary (which you can also download as a PDF below) draws upon some very helpful insights from Professor Pete Smith at the University of Aberdeen and includes some useful commentary from Dr Marco Springmann at the University of Oxford – thanks to both.

6 February 2014

Farmagaddeon describes the effects of livestock intensification (“factory farming”) around the world. It makes the case against industrialised agriculture arguing that it affects not only the welfare of farmed animals but also increasingly our countryside, health and the quality of our food all around the world.