Document disputes meat's environmental impact

by MEAT+POULTRY STAFF
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WASHINGTON, DC – The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) has released a new Media MythCrusher document outlining 10 common myths dealing with media reports about the sustainability and environmental impact of meat production.

“With so many different definitions and numbers shared around the world, it is hard for reporters to navigate what the research shows on the environmental impact of meat production,” said Eric Mittenthal, NAMI vice president of public affairs. “The new Media MythCrusher is an easy-to-use resource with links to key research and data that shows the positive trends of greenhouse gas reductions in the industry over many years.”

According to NAMI, the most common myth seen throughout the media dates back to the 2006 United Nations (UN) report, “Livestock's Long Shadow,” which said that livestock contribute 18 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, a greater percentage than transportation. This number has been challenged by scientists who point out that the UN produced its numbers for the livestock sector by adding up emissions from farm to table, but its transportation analysis did not similarly add up emissions from well to wheel, according to NAMI.

Regional environmental impacts also vary significantly from worldwide data. Citing findings from the US Environmental Protection Agency, NAMI said all of agriculture contributes 9 percent of America’s GHGs while livestock production accounts for 4.2 percent of GHGs. By contrast, transportation accounts for 27 percent and energy production is 31 percent. The differences between US and worldwide numbers are due to technologies and production efficiencies utilized in the US.

“A close look at the data shows that the environmental impact of the meat industry has declined considerably over the last 40 years,” Mittenthal said. “Specific to beef, the industry has produced 13 percent more total beef from 30 percent fewer animals while using 19 percent less feed, 33 percent less land, 12 percent less water, and 9 percent less fossil fuel energy with an overall carbon footprint reduction of 16 percent.”

The new MythCrusher document supplements the library of six Meat MythCrusher videos on environmental topics produced by NAMI and the American Meat Science Association.

For more information, see www.meatinstitute.org/index.php?ht=a/GetDocumentAction/i/117575.

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