May 2, 2011

Livestock raising a major source of dangerous nitrogen pollution

Excessive amounts of nitrogen in the environment are costing up to €320 billion per year in damage to Europe's environment and human health, according to a major study just conducted by 200 experts from 21 countries.

The costs of this nitrogen pollution, which originates largely from livestock manure and synthetic fertilizers, represent more than double the benefits of the continent’s agriculture sector.

Nitrogen runoff in rivers and streams causes algal growths that suffocate aquatic and marine life as well as disturb delicate ecosystems. Lead author, Dr. Mark Sutton of the UK's Center of Ecology and Hydrology, also pointed out that 85% of the nitrogen in crops is actually consumed by livestock; only 15% is used to feed humans directly.

This, combined with the excessive nitrogen from livestock manure highlights a need to reduce meat intake. Dr. Sutton and colleagues, we are grateful for your work that underscores the dangers of nitrogen pollution and livestock raising. May humanity quickly adopt lifestyles that preserve and protect all beings on our planetary home.

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