WWF report finds 60% of global biodiversity loss is down to meat-based diets which put huge strain on Earths resources
The ongoing global appetite for meat is having a devastating impact on the environment driven by the production of crop-based feed for animals, a new report has warned.
The vast scale of growing crops such as soy to rear chickens, pigs and other animals puts an enormous strain on natural resources leading to the wide-scale loss of land and species, according to the study from the conservation charity WWF.
Intensive and industrial animal farming also results in less nutritious food, it reveals, highlighting that six intensively reared chickens today have the same amount of omega-3 as found in just one chicken in the 1970s.
The study entitled Appetite for Destruction launches on Thursday at the 2017 Extinction and Livestock Conference in London, in conjunction with Compassion in World Farming (CIFW), and warns of the vast amount of land needed to grow the crops used for animal feed and cites some of the worlds most vulnerable areas such as the Amazon, Congo Basin and the Himalayas.
The report and conference come against a backdrop of alarming revelations of industrial farming. Last week a Guardian/ITV investigation showed chicken factory staff in the UK changing crucial food safety information.
Protein-rich soy is now produced in such huge quantities that the average European consumes approximately 61kg each year, largely indirectly by eating animal products such as chicken, pork, salmon, cheese, milk and eggs.
In 2010, the British livestock industry needed an area the size of Yorkshire to produce the soy used in feed. But if global demand for meat grows as expected, the report says, soy production would need to increase by nearly 80% by 2050.
The world is consuming more animal protein than it needs and this is having a devastating effect on wildlife, said Duncan Williamson, WWF food policy manager. A staggering 60% of global biodiversity loss is down to the food we eat. We know a lot of people are aware that a meat-based diet has an impact on water and land, as well as causing greenhouse gas emissions, but few know the biggest issue of all comes from the crop-based feed the animals eat.
With 23bn chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and guinea fowl on the planet more than three per person the biggest user of crop-based feed globally is poultry. The second largest, with 30% of the worlds feed in 2009, is the pig industry.
In the UK, pork is the second favourite meat after chicken, with each person eating on average 25kg a year in 2015 nearly the whole recommended yearly intake for all meats. UK nutritional guidelines recommend 45-55g of protein per day, but the average UK consumption is 64-88g, of which 37% is meat and meat products.
A pair of giraffes with leucism, a condition that inhibits pigmentation in skin cells, have been filmed by conservationists for the first time
A pair of rare white giraffes have been spotted in Kenya, to the delight of local residents and conservationists.
The reticulated giraffes, a mother and child, suffer from a genetic condition called leucism, which inhibits pigmentation in skin cells. Unlike albinism, animals with leucism continue to produce dark pigment in their soft tissue, which explains the white giraffes dark eyes and other colouring.
After local residents tipped them off, conservationists found the giraffes in the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in Kenyas Garissa county.
The area is managed by the Hirola Conservation Programme (HCP), an NGO dedicated to preserving the critically endangered hirola antelope, one of the rarest in the world.
The HCP wrote in a blog post that the giraffes were first reported to rangers in June by a local villager.
They were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence. The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards in front of us while signalling the baby giraffe to hide behind the bushes.
According to the HCP, this most recent footage is only the third known sighting of a white giraffe.
A white giraffe in the same Ishaqbini conservancy was reported in March 2016, while in Tanzania, a Masai giraffe calf called Omo was observed in Tarangire national park in January 2016.
Reticulated giraffes are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with an estimated 8,500 individuals in the wild. They live in Somalia, southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya.