Environment and breeding

Cattle breeding products – eggs, meat, milk and derivatives – supply a third of global human protein intake. As consumption of this type of food isn’t distributed evenly in the countries of the world, at the same time, it causes obesity in western countries (where consumption of this type of food is excessive) and is a potential undernourishment remedy in developing countries (DCs). But the cattle breeding is also one of the main accountable sectors for the many environmental changes registered in the last decades on a local and global scale. Demand for cattle breeding products is on the rise due to population growth and changes in food preferences: predictions, infact, estimate meat and milk production will double between 2000 and 2050. This poses a risk for the health status of the environment as it implies a deterioration of the process of environmental degradation that is currently taking place. For a full-scale assessment of the impacts of cattle breeding on the environment, it’s necessary to take into account both direct environmental aspects, which are closely related to the typical activities of animal production and indirect aspects, related for example to agriculture activities required to feed cattle. Polluting processes connected to animal production are complex and difficult to control because, on the one hand, industrial cattle breeding presents forms of “acute” pollution having point sources and easily identifiable, on the other hand, various activities related to animal production (agricultural production, chemical industry, waste production and disposal) are to some extent widespread sources of pollution causing a “chronic” impact that are thus identifiable on the long run. Substantial environmental impacts related to animal production concern soil degradation, climate change and atmospheric pollution, use of water resources and the process of their contamination and, more generally, loss of biodiversity. Let’s have a closer look to the current situation and environmental impacts that should be reduced.

Special reports

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Facts