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Es hora de repensar la ganadería

a mediados de julio, como una brutal sequía diezmó los cultivos, algunos productores de carne y leche europeos se vieron obligados a sacrificar sus rebaños antes de tiempo para reducir la cantidad de animales que necesitaban alimentar. Such desperate decisions will become routine in a world where heat waves will be longer, hotter, drier and more frequent. That is why now is the right time to start a serious conversation about animal agriculture.It’s time to rethink animal agriculture

The production of meat and dairy products is both highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and a key contributor to the problem. | IMÁGENES FALSAS

The animal agriculture industry is not only vulnerable to the observed and predicted effects of climate change; it is also a key contributor to the problem. De hecho, the farming of animals for meat and dairy products accounts for 16.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Además, if we treat climate change as the emergency it is and are serious about slowing the pace of warming over the next 20 años, the proportional influence of livestock farming will be even greater. This is because the animal sector is responsible for a third of all anthropogenic methane and two-thirds of nitrous oxide emissions — both potent greenhouse gases that trap more heat than carbon dioxide.

Beyond climate pollution, a staggering 60 percent of all biodiversity loss is attributable to land-use changes from animal cultivation, and as much as 80 percent of all land in farming is devoted either to raising animals or to growing their feed. There is also the stubborn reality that eating so many animals is making us less healthy.

We can do better without great sacrifice. According to recent research by Chatham House, por ejemplo, people in developed countries would accept reducing their meat intake if convenient and tasty alternatives were available for about the same price.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that everyone should become vegetarian or vegan (though it is indisputable that these diets are better for the environment, contribute less to climate change and are healthier). Nor do I think that governments should mandate limits on meat consumption. But for policymakers who accept that there is little downside and significant upside for most people in developed countries to reduce their meat intake, there are plenty of cost-effective solutions to nudge us in that direction.

Para principiantes, governments can — and should — stop subsidizing factory farming and the crops that fatten up factory-farmed animals for slaughter. By supporting polluting and inhumane practices, countries are literally paying companies to undermine the emissions targets set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

En lugar, governments can — and should — shift subsidies to encourage the production of more climate-neutral, protein-rich crops, like pulses and other legumes. By planting more beans, peas and lentils, farmers would help combat climate change by lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and would benefit from crops that are more resilient to drier, warmer weather.

Government support can also be diverted from factory meat farms toward development of plant-based “meats” and other meat alternatives. The market for “clean meat” is nascent but burgeoning, and the public response has been overwhelmingly positive to some of the more advanced products on the market.

Todavía, just like the fossil fuel industry, meat industry advocates have pushed policymakers to block the mainstreaming of alternatives. En muchos países, lobbyists have even successfully championed the prohibition of meat-based names for plant-based products. Por ejemplo, France recently banned terms like vegan “burger” and “steak” on the grounds that only animal meat could be either.

Such policies are a clear barrier to reducing meat consumption, and they contradict countries’ commitment to meet their Paris agreement targets. The meat sector’s support for them puts it in the same role as the fossil fuel industry, focused on nothing more than its own bottom line. Or can producers engage as a positive force in the transition away from meat?

When it comes to climate policy, food and agriculture should be treated more like energy and transportation, both of which have clear guidance on how to address climate change and reduce emissions. Policies to limit the planet-warming effects of agriculture and food production are long overdue.

We are two years away from the first major report to gauge progress under the Paris agreement. Countries will have to show what they have done and what they are doing to cut their emissions. Pero van a dejar una gran parte del problema sin tocar si no se ocupan de la producción y el consumo de carne y productos lácteos.

mientras tanto, Los agricultores europeos sufrirán través de más sequías como la que sufrieron este verano, como lo harán otros productores de alimentos de todo el mundo. Será más difícil y más difícil de carne de granja y productos lácteos, y los primeros sacrificios se convertirá en la nueva normalidad. Al igual que con los combustibles fósiles, our only choice is to overcome the industry’s defensive resistance and transform our food system so that it enables diets that are healthier, cleaner and every bit as delicious.

Fuente:, by PAUL GILDING

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