Animal Aid

EAT LESS MEAT - Feed the world

Animal farming is a massively inefficient way of producing food for people. As part of our Veggie Month campaign, we look at the real cost of modern farming.

'In cycling our grain through livestock, we waste 90% of its protein and 96% of its calories. An acre of cereal can produce five times more protein than an acre devoted to meat production; and legumes (beans, lentils, peas) can produce ten times as much. Thus the greater the human consumption of animal products, the fewer people can be fed.'

Joni Seager, The State of the Environment Atlas, Penguin Books, 1995.

'Those who consume livestock products and fish are competing directly with those who need grain for food'.

Lester Brown, president of the Worldwatch Institute, USA.

The real cost of modern farming

The true impact of modern farming on the environment and the public's health has been calculated by a University of Essex research team. The bill, which includes the cost of cleaning up pollution, repairing habitats and coping with sickness caused by farming, comes to more than £2.3 billion a year - a sum almost equalling the industry's income.

The researchers, from the university's Centre for Environment and Society, draw their figures from numerous sources. In 1996, for instance, they discovered that water companies spent £214 million removing pesticides, nitrates and farm disease organisms from drinking water. The bill for food poisoning includes an allowance for the victims' lost wages.

'We have been explicitly conservative,' the report's chief author, Jules Pretty, told New Scientist (Dec. 18 1999). Lack of reliable data had forced them to leave out costs such as the impact on farmers' health of pesticides use.

'Farming had better clean up quickly,' said Pretty, if it wants to keep on receiving its £3 billion in annual subsidies.'

For more information see Wrecking the planet and Feed the World: The Vegetarian Solution.

Go veggie - it's easier than you think.

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