Scientists find beef production harmful to the environment

Production of beef is nearly ten times more damaging to the environment than any other form of meat production, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

American scientists measured the environment inputs required for beef production and concluded that beef cattle need 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water than pork, poultry, eggs or dairy.

The researchers developed a uniform methodology that they were able to apply to all five livestock categories and to four measures of environmental performance.

"We have a sharp view of the comparative impact that beef, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs have in terms of land and water use, reactive nitrogen discharge, and greenhouse gas emissions," professor Gidon Eshel, from New York's Bard College, told the BBC.

The scientists calculated that the amount of resources required for all the feed consumed by edible livestock and worked out the amount of hay, silage and concentrates such as soybeans required by the different species to put on a kilo of weight. They also included greenhouse gas emissions, not just from the production of feed for animals, but from their digestion and manure.

Apart from the effects on land and water, beef cattle release five times more greenhouse gas and consume six times more nitrogen than eggs or poultry.

As a result, beef is the food animal with the biggest environmental impact.

Read full article here