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Let them eat meat? A solution or or a problem for a sustainable healthy future?

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Presented by Lawrence Haddad (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition) at the International Tropical Agriculture Conference, Brisbane, Australia, 11−13 November 2019

Published in: Science
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Let them eat meat? A solution or or a problem for a sustainable healthy future?

  1. 1. Let them eat meat? A solution or or a problem for a sustainable healthy future? Lawrence Haddad Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition International Tropical Agriculture Conference Brisbane, Australia November 11-13, 2019
  2. 2. Simple message: Animal source foods are essential for infant and young child growth State of the World’s Children 2019, UNICEF
  3. 3. 7.3 4.8 1.9 6 0 Any ASF Any grains/roots/tuber Any Legumes/nuts Any fruit Any vegetables Percentage reduction in stunting rates from consuming a food from the food groups below in the previous 24 hours (49 countries in Africa, Asia and LAC) Animal Sourced Foods and Child Stunting D. Headey, K. Hirvonen, and J. Hoddinott (2018) Amer. J. Agr. Econ. 100(5): 1302–1319 %
  4. 4. 6.3 3.2 5.4 Dairy Eggs Meat/Fish Percentage reduction in stunting rates from consuming a food from the food groups below in the previous 24 hours (49 countries in Africa, Asia and LAC) Animal Sourced Foods and Child Stunting D. Headey, K. Hirvonen, and J. Hoddinott (2018) Amer. J. Agr. Econ. 100(5): 1302–1319 %
  5. 5. https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/ “Because many regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, still face severe burdens of undernutrition and malnutrition, and growing children often do not obtain adequate quantities of nutrients from plant source foods alone, the role of animal source foods should be examined carefully. Achieving healthy diets from sustainable food systems for everyone on the planet is possible; however, to accomplish this goal, local and regional realities need to be carefully considered.” p. 10 of EAT Lancet Report The EAT Lancet Report excludes kids 0-2 and does acknowledge (begrudgingly) the importance of animal source foods for child growth
  6. 6. Plant Source Foods Animal Source Foods Cereals, roots and tubers Fruits, vegetables, pulses etc. Non Meat Meat Red White Processed Health outcomes Stunting and Wasting Strongly Reduces Strongly Reduces Strongly Reduces Strongly Reduces Strongly Reduces ?? Premature Mortality, Diabetes, Heart Disease Reduces Strongly Reduces ?? Increases, but also not so cut and dried ?? Strongly Increases Environ- mental outcomes Greenhouse Gases Low emissions Low emissions Lower emissions than red meat High emissions, but highly contested Lower emissions than red meat ?? Other Environmental Effects ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? Livelihoods Poverty reduction, economic development Very important Very important, with great potential Very important, with great potential The Complex Picture
  7. 7. Animals and Climate Change: Dazed and Confused? Does livestock rival transportation as a greenhouse gas emitter? Not in high income countries: California livestock contributes 5.4 % of GHG emissions & transport 36.9 % Food Waste is one of the biggest food related emissions of GHGs >30% of the world’s food is lost or wasted Not all cows are created equal US cows produce 1/20th of the GHG, per unit of cow output, compared to Indian cows Does Livestock take up land that could be used to grow crops? Livestock occupies 70% of agricultural land, but occupies only a very small % of land that could be used to grow crops Based on Porter et. al. 2016, Poore et. al. 2018, and Mitloehner 2018 Not all meat is the same when it comes to GHG emissions Compared to beef cattle, pig meat and poultry emit about 1/7th GHG per 100g
  8. 8. Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector Lots of controversy about different weights of different sectors Apples vs Oranges
  9. 9. 50 22 20 7 6 6 2 Cattle (beef) Lamb & Mutton Beef (dairy) Pig Meat Fish (farmed) Poultry Pulses GHG emissions Kg CO2 equiv/100g of food 119 countries Data are approximate, drawn from graphs in Poore et al., Science 360, 987–992 (2018) 1 June 2018 Greenhouse gas emissions from different types of protein production
  10. 10. S.D. Porter et al. / Science of the Total Environment 571 (2016) 721–729 Food Loss & Waste is low in Sub Saharan Africa, but high in N. America Fruits and Vegetables account for > 1/3 of total food loss & waste
  11. 11. But animal production in low and middle income countries will have to become much more efficient • Reproductive health (e.g. 40% of China’s pigs die before having been weaned from mother’s milk) • Improved health, including vaccinations and treatment of animals • Improved breeding for selected traits like growth rate, carcass yield • Feeding more energy dense feed to cows These 4 tools have allowed the US dairy herd to decline from 25 million in 1950 to 9 million in 2018, while overall milk production is up by 60% From Frank Mitloehner (2018) in Chapter 5 of https://www.nap.edu/read/25289/chapter/5 in the National Academies Press
  12. 12. In low and middle income countries, red meat is cheaper than all other forms of ASF: need to make other ASF cheaper Headey, Derek & Alderman, Harold. (2019). The Relative Caloric Prices of Healthy and Unhealthy Foods Differ Systematically across Income Levels and Continents. The Journal of nutrition. 149. 10.1093/jn/nxz158. Price relative to cereal cost of equivalent calories
  13. 13. Implications • Important big caveats: have not looked at livelihoods or other environmental effects • Context is everything • A big Inequality agenda – Differentiated responsibilities and capacities to change consumption – What are the prospects for high income country changes in production and consumption to give low and middle income countries time to adjust? • Middle income countries are harder to design policies for as they have almost equal levels of under and over nutrition (double burden) • Much more data and research needed in low and middle income countries on impacts of different types of meat production and consumption on – Health (under and over nutrition), GHG emissions, Land use, Water use
  14. 14. GHG Emissions per capita are highly unequal US emissions per capita are 124 times that of Ethiopia So the US has lots of scope and lots of options to reduce GHG
  15. 15. Meat consumption is also highly unequal So the high consumers have lots of scope to reduce consumption
  16. 16. Meat consumption high Meat consumption low GHG emission/cap high GHG emission/cap low Reduce meat consumption on health grounds, but there may be other sectors that are a bigger priority for GHG reductions Not many countries here, although India might be here in 10 years time • China used to be in this category about 5 years ago • Probably need to switch away from red meat consumption • Make non red meat production more efficient • Most of Sub Saharan Africa here • Make non-red meat & other ASFs cheaper • Improve GHG efficiency of meat production What is a stressed out policymaker to do, part 2?
  17. 17. We Need to Elevate the Discourse • Issues are complex • The evidence base is thin • There is a lot of ideology mixed in – evidence can be interpreted in many ways • Competing interests are everywhere • Need to avoid demonising those who disagree with us— it sets everyone back
  18. 18. Thank you Especially for those who this work is being done for

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