As world governments convened for the COP10 conference in Japan to solve the complex issue of biodiversity loss, scientists affiliated with the World Resources Institute (WRI) submitted an article describing the devastating environmental impacts of current food production methods. WRI Vice President for Science and Research Janet Ranganathan and former WRI fellow Frances Irwin highlighted the need to achieve sustainable food security before ecosystems are irreversibly damaged.
For instance, the climate-regulating Amazon rainforest, already one-fifth less its original size, has been collapsing primarily due to livestock grazing and growing feed crops.
The researchers wrote, “…Delegates should turn their attention to the root cause of the problem: the ways in which we meet our need for food. Food supply … is a leading factor in the five principal pressures causing biodiversity loss... While producing food relies on harvesting nature's bounty, food production often degrades the very ecosystems it depends on.” The study went on to suggest key holistic strategies, including restoring degraded lands into forests and promoting the use of vegetable proteins to replace meat.
Experts during the United Nations biodiversity conference also confirmed the importance of changing both food production and consumption patterns as main ways to protect ecosystems.
Pavan Sukhdev - Study leader for The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), Special Advisor and Head of UNEP's Green Economy Initiative (M): Today something like 25% of all land is in some form or the other used for cattle and for meat food. So if you could somehow think of more efficient ways of making use of the same land, I think that will be a huge favor that we do ourselves. So we should reduce our meat consumption in my opinion as well.
VOICE: Not only land but also oceans and other waterways could be protected from the damaging pollution of chemicals, pesticides and animal waste, by turning to organic growing practices and eliminating meat production.
Prof. Paul Leadley – University of Paris-Sud (M): The pollution problem is very strongly related to agricultural practices, which produce much of the especially nitrogen, phosphorous, pesticides, and herbicides that enter the coastal waters and cause a lot of damage to marine ecosystems in general.
One of the most important ways of dealing with that is changing the way that we do agriculture. Organic farming has important advantages, and that’s especially the getting rid of pesticides and herbicides and that is extremely important for the quality of the soils and also water quality.
It also has to do with the amount of meat that we produce. Meat production actually increases the amount of plants we have to grow and it also creates a lot of animal wastes that are part of the problem of that nutrient pollution. Those are two important things we can do.
VOICE: Our appreciation, World Resources Institute and other international experts for highlighting food production methods and their effects on our ecosphere. Let us act now to reduce impact and save lives by adopting sustainable organic plant-based fare.
As during a July 2008 videoconference in the US, Supreme Master Ching Hai has long advocated the shift away from livestock production and meat consumptionto ensure a stable food supply and a restored planet.