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Animal Justice Party: Less hooves = more food

Media Release: Less hooves = more food

Senate candidates from the Animal Justice Party (AJP) will take their ‘less hooves equals more food’ initiative to Canberra this week, to promote a sustainable approach to global food security issues.

The party wants Australia to realise its potential as a food bowl for the world in a sustainable, ethical manner by decreasing animal agriculture and increasing plant-based food production.

The AJP’s lead candidate for the senate in Victoria, Bruce Poon said with the world’s population currently about 7 billion and growing, and production being negatively impacted by climate change, a new approach was desperately needed to future proof the world’s food supply.

“Animal agriculture must be scaled back if we are to stabilise the climate and avoid run-away and catastrophic climate change,” said Mr Poon.

“One of the most pressing drivers of poverty and hunger is that the poor are being out-bid by the rich for grains that wind up feeding livestock instead of people.

“Globally, we feed enough grain to cattle to feed 8.7 billion people each day.

“Even in Australia, where cattle spend most of their time on pasture, they still consume more than twice the grain in any time period that all the people in Australia do.

“Factory-farmed animals such as pigs and chickens also consume large amounts of grain while such intensive farming practices produce other issues such as waste, disease and anti-biotic resistance.

“Put simply, ‘less hooves equals more food’ – for everyone.”

The AJP position is based on the science from several reputable reports authored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Environment Program (UNEP).

Published between 2006 and 2010 these reports identify animal agriculture as a major contributor to green house gas emissions and species extinction due to loss of biodiversity from clearing.

Mr Poon said animal agriculture was responsible for 92 per cent of all land degradation in Australia, and had caused loss of habitat, species extinction and contributed to climate change.

“Animal agriculture also uses the bulk of fresh water in Australia, for example the Victorian dairy industry uses over half of the state’s available fresh water.

“Australia must demonstrate leadership and commitment to address global food security in an environmentally sustainable way, and we need to do it now,” he said.

Queensland AJP candidate Chris O’Brien said Australian farmers were highly productive and well equipped to turn Australia into the food bowl of the world, but were held back by outdated ideas, practices and misdirected government incentives.

“As part of the global community – and as a wealthy food producing country – Australia has a ethical responsibility to increase sustainable production of plant based food and decrease reliance on animal agriculture,” said Mr O’Brien.

"Our government needs to get serious about reducing land use and environmental degradation caused by animal agriculture.

“Boosting the production of grains, fruits and vegetables for human consumption is a more sustainable way to feed the world that will benefit human health, the environment and reduce the immense animal suffering that is systemic in the production of animals for food.

“Additionally, we need to develop storage and processing industries to value-add to raw product to better meet the demands of the enormous markets on our doorstep.”

The AJP representatives will be meeting with Ambassadors from countries within our region this week to discuss food security issues and how Australia can transform its food production to sustainably meet the growing demand of a hungry world.
ENDS….

Background

Ruminants like sheep and cattle produce substantial methane through the digestion of food. Methane is recognized as one of the most harmful greenhouse emissions (much more so than carbon).

Land is cleared for grazing to grow crops for factory animal farms. Producing animals for food is far less efficient than plant based protein in terms of land, water and emissions.

Cleared land in many areas (like Australia's top end) is burned regularly to keep it from reverting to forest. Keeping land cleared for animals means it can't be reforested to draw down CO2.
Transporting feed to animals and animals to slaughter produces CO2. The necessary refrigeration required to prevent the otherwise speedy decomposition of meat between slaughter and cooking is also heavy CO2 producer (commercially and domestically).

Australia's livestock produce more than twice the CO2 contributions of our coal-fired power stations.

Contacts:

Bruce Poon: AJP lead candidate for the Victorian Senate – 0400 248 226
Chris O’Brien: AJP candidate for the Queensland Senate – 0426 396 715
Professor Steve Garlick: AJP National President – 0428 880 564

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Comments

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA) says more holistic approach to managing disease threats at the animal-human-environment interface.

It said population growth, agricultural expansion and the rise of globe-spanning food supply chains had dramatically altered how diseases emerge, jump species boundaries and spread.

“The ongoing expansion of agricultural lands into wild areas, coupled with a worldwide boom in livestock production, means that "livestock and wildlife are more in contact with each other, and we ourselves are more in contact with animals than ever before," said Ren Wang, FAO Assistant Director-General for Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

Developing countries are being overwhelmed by zoonotic diseases, human and livestock diseases. Globalisation is spreading pathogens of animal origin.

Ongoing population growth and poverty - coupled with inadequate health systems and sanitation infrastructure - remain major drivers in disease dynamics.

Read more: FOA report

It's not surprising that the FOA predicts that the problems of diseases in humans and animals are likely to worsen as both human and livestock populations increase and as our appetite for meat grows. Factory farms can also cause respiratory ailments among animals and humans alike, and because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics at these facilities, they are a major culprit in the spread of antibiotic resistance.

Half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and cities are fast becoming destinations for factory farms, particularly in the developing world. In 2006, meat production increased 2.5 percent to an estimated 276 million tons, and output is expected to rise another 3 percent in 2007 to 285 million tons. (See Worldwatch's Vital Signs 2007–2008 report.)

A more holistic approach would be to curb humanity's addiction to meat and livestock products, and only consume amounts that can be produced organically, without monocultures, factory farms, mass production, antibiotics, and global exports of animals and produce. Each nation should be potentially self-supporting in sustainable food supplies, and population overshoot should be addressed with sensible family planning and rewards for small families.

A study by scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln argues that there have been abrupt declines or plateaus in the rate of production of major crops. This is despite optimistic projections of constantly increasing crop yields. As much as "31% of total global rice, wheat and maize production" has experienced "yield plateaus or abrupt decreases in yield gain, including rice in eastern Asia and wheat in northwest Europe."

They are challenging the cornucopian myth of endless goodness and benefits of Nature.

"... we found widespread deceleration in the relative rate of increase of average yields of the major cereal crops during the 1990–2010 period in countries with greatest production of these crops, and strong evidence of yield plateaus or an abrupt drop in rate of yield gain in 44% of the cases, which, together, account for 31% of total global rice, wheat and maize production."

We have Thomas Malthus, Dr Norman Borlaug and Dr Paul Erlich already warning of limits to food production and that human populations can exceed the rate of food increases - despite human manipulations of crops and landscapes.

Factors contributing to the declines or plateaus in food production rates include land and soil degradation, climate change and cyclical weather patterns, use of fertilisers and pesticides, and inadequate or inappropriate investment.

70% of US grain production is fed to livestock. As much as 85% of rangeland in the western US is being degraded by overgrazing. Between 19 and 22% of all threatened and endangered species are harmed by livestock grazing. Cattle ranching has destroyed more Central American rainforest than any other activity. 70% of cleared forests in Panama and Costa Rica are now in pasture.

It makes sense that a combination of a lowering humanity's diet further down the food chain, and incentives for small family sizes, avoid a "Malthusian crisis" of human overshoot and starvation.

Dramatic decline in industrial agriculture could herald 'peak food' at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/dec/19/industrial-agriculture-limits-peak-food .

Far fewer human feet and mouths would mean adequate food and space and reasonable lives for all animals, including the much reduced number of humans.

Sounds like paradise to me!