Knowledge for better food systems

Transcript of online debate: Climate change, sustainability and animal welfare: What are the solutions?

Sentience Mosaic hosts live online debates where a variety of topics related to animal sentience are discussed.

The description of the event was as follows: “Livestock production is responsible for a large proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, livestock related gas emissions are expected to increase rapidly in coming years if no action is taken. Some propose that further intensification of animal production, in order to increase yield per animal, is the answer to reducing gas emissions. However, many argue that this is unethical and is not a solution.

Some suggest that organic farming is the way forward; for instance organic farming of sheep and pigs uses less energy than non-organic farming. In contrast when meat chickens are reared in free-range and organic systems they produce higher levels of gas emissions as they tend to live longer compared to in factory farms. In regards to good animal welfare, and the consideration of animal sentience in agriculture, intensive systems are not the answer; organic and free range systems are. The physical and psychological needs of animals kept in intensive systems simply cannot be met.

What is the solution? Can we rear animals in a way which reduces their current impact on the environment but at the same time ensure they have good welfare, and a good quality of life? Is there a way of reducing gas emissions and other environmental damage which offers farmers and consumers a way of producing animals that respects animal welfare, considers animal sentience and the environment?”

The discussants were:  Dr Tara Garnett, Food Climate Research Network, and Professor Jonathan Rushton, Production and Population Health department, Royal Veterinary College.

The transcript from the debate is available here.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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