In today’s society, there are increasingly controversial or taboo topics, whether due to purely ideological/sociological aspects (established beliefs or dogmas) or to trends or fashions widely accepted by society on increasingly unintellectual grounds. The livestock sector is no stranger to this and has positioned itself strongly in recent times as a standard-bearer of the “environmental struggle”.
Returning to the concept of anti-intellectualism, as mentioned by ASEPRHU in the article “LIVESTOCK FARMING’S FUTURE“, the reality is that we are all both ignorant and experts in whatever subject. The important thing is to be aware of which of the two parts dominates our intellect. If it is the first (ignorance), we should let ourselves be guided by the second (experts), and if this ignorance is voluntary, we should step aside and not be a hindrance or a driving force in a subject of which we do not want to learn the fundamentals or principles. As for the second (experts), it is essential to listen to what the ignorant (voluntarily or not) have to say, but it is your duty to respond with arguments on the principles that govern decision-making and to make people understand that a principle or foundation is not an opinion: it is a reality.
Also in the field of animal husbandry, it is our duty to inform about principles and not opinions. That is why we will now list ten principles that apply in nature and that concern the ethological behaviour of animals and the laws of nature, which we as a society must be aware of in order to make decisions.
The first principle is that there is no single species (animal or plant) in any environment, i.e. we will not see a single plant or animal (with nothing else coexisting) in an ecosystem. Sterile and/or monovarietal environments are utopian in nature.
The second principle is that there are no physical boundaries other than geographical elements such as rivers, seas, mountains, cuts or barriers that are physically impassable without external action, therefore, only these barriers will act as elements that impede the free or unrestricted movement of terrestrial animals and they are the ones that have governed and will continue to govern natural cycles.
The third principle is the respect and inviolability of the biological cycle of plants and animals, so that these times must be respected if we do not want to incur unrecoverable structural or biologically based deficiencies.
The fourth principle is that without death there is no life, so that life is irretrievably linked to death (whether natural or produced). This is true for animals and plants.
The fifth principle is that, if there is a proliferation of infections/diseases/pests/parasites, it is created due to an imbalance in the environment that favours their biological cycle and therefore the multiplication of the causative agent. In animals, this cycle is broken when animals are constantly on the move, a fact that is brought about by the sixth principle of prey/predator, which we will list later. Natural selection has allowed indigenous plants and animals adapted to the environment, which are more resistant to such diseases and pests, to survive.
The sixth is the prey/predator principle – large herds close together and constantly moving in search of food and protection from the predator – which favours the breaking or slowing down of infection (no host, no parasite). In plants, continuous movement is not possible, so ecosystemic balance must be used. This principle generates movement that produces per se an animal impact on the environment of high biological value, by spreading seeds and manure in a balanced way, and creates intensive grazing (non-selective grazing) that revitalises grass growth, selects the most adapted plants or grasses and promotes biodiversity, among other direct and indirect effects.
The seventh principle is that balanced ecosystems always have an abundance of native fauna and flora, the former always having a ruminant that takes care of recycling the grass, shrub and tree (plant) mass, thanks to rumen digestion (digestion, among others, of ingested fibre) being the management model that naturally controls excess vegetation on these lands. This allows the previously digested nutrients to be returned in the form of excrement and urine and reincorporated into the soil in the form of compound molecules that will be transformed or processed by insects and bacteria to make them assimilable by plants. These will be the precursors of plant food, created thanks to the systemic function of the soil microbiota complex (bacteria and fungi) and insects (Coleoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera and Lepidoptera).
The eighth principle is that animals have been and will continue to be the cornerstone of nature’s architecture, the ones in charge of recycling excess or surplus (grasses or undergrowth), of taking advantage of waste (coprophages, scavengers) or as a model for controlling trophic imbalances (insect infestation, overpopulation).
The ninth principle is that animals neither create nor eliminate available resources or raw materials, but rather transform them into different molecules and compounds called nutrients such as carbohydrates, lipids or nitrogenous materials (including different gases due to digestion), and what is not digested or assimilated are excretions or faeces. As heterotrophic beings, animals (including humans) consume existing organic matter, whether of plant (herbivores), animal (carnivores) or mixed (omnivores) origin, to obtain energy and food for vital functions. This organic matter has been created by means of autotrophic beings (such as plants), capable of creating organic compounds by means of mineral or inorganic compounds such as carbon dioxide, air, water or soil minerals using solar energy as a source of energy.
The tenth and last principle that we will address is the enormous resilience that ecosystem dynamics have acquired over the centuries and millennia to reach an appropriate balance between all the actors that coexist in the same environment and have been able to adapt to it. Therefore, we must assume that nature is the expert in the matter (due to experience and seniority) and humans the ignorant (in ecosystemic terms) in the equation.
Any decision, action, dissemination at the livestock farming level should contemplate at least several of these principles in order to be aligned with the ecosystemic reality and work in harmony with the principles of nature and not fight against it: we must, as a society, seek resilience as a foundation in the actions we carry out in livestock farming. Yes, we must take a humble step and rethink a livestock model that has demonstrated extreme productive efficiency and allowed access to nutritionally varied food at a reduced price, but which has systematically ignored the harmful effects of the green revolution, as well as the warning signals sent to us by Nature. It is time to go back to the basics of agriculture, and, without defending a model that is economically and socially efficient, it must also be environmentally efficient, as the animal is the most efficient and effective tool for coherently achieving (with good management of the animal/plant/soil ratio) the Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the United Nations and taken up by the EU in its strategic agenda for the year 2050. Will the livestock sector be hypersensitive to productive change between now and 2030? It will all depend on who prevails in the balance of anti-intellectualism on livestock production in global decision-making.
For pure livestock farming, free of dogmas and beliefs and in harmony with the fundamentals and principles of nature, animals and plants. The only desire should be to direct our efforts towards what sustains our life on this planet: a living and fertile soil, which feeds us and has also positioned itself as the most efficient and effective tool to sequester surplus CO2, being a sink source to counteract GHG emissions from other economic activities to reverse and slow down climate change.
Many of the meat replacement products on the market are not actually a replacement for meat at all, or are in some other way unhealthy, according to a survey carried out by the consumer group Test Achats.
More and more people these days are looking for alternatives to meat, whether they adopt a fully vegan/vegetarian lifestyle or are simply looking to cut down on their consumption of meat.
The market has responded, with a growing number of products tailor-made for people who want to eat less meat but still have the feeling of eating meat.
The trouble is, however, that many such products – meat-free burgers or meatballs, for example – are no substitute for meat from a nutritional point of view.
Test Achats examined 37 different types of ready-made meat replacement products like hot dogs, burgers and mince, and looked at how healthy the product was in itself, as well as how effective it would be as a replacement for meat.
Among the findings: many such products contain added saturated fat, brought in to try to mimic the texture and mouth-feel of actual meat. But saturated fat is unhealthy in itself, in quantities above 10g per 100g of meat.
There is an ongoing conversation in consumer spaces about beef’s contribution to climate change. In many circles, beef is being painted as a villain that can be minimized and/or eliminated to help solve global climate issues. On the ground, as cattle producers, we know this isn’t accurate. In fact, we know it’s an outrageous lie that’s being used to sell consumers a fake meat product they don’t want or need and one that won’t do anything to solve climate problems. The reality is that we know cattle can be a part of the solution. We know that pasture and rangeland, through proper management, can actually reduce the amount of carbon and more than offset the short-lived methane emissions of our cattle.
Un grupo de profesionales ha participado como ponentes en un webinario organizado por la European Livestock Voice en el que se han analizado las tendencias actuales en materia de bienestar animal.
La primera en intervenir ha sido .a gerente del equipo de la granja del Eurogroup for Animals, Inês Ajuda, que explicó que la salud animal, el bienestar y la capacidad de expresar comportamientos naturales y apropiados están interconectados y los 3 pilares deben incluirse cuando se habla de bienestar animal.
Trine Vig Tamstorf, asesora principal de políticas para la salud y el bienestar de los animales del Consejo Danés de Agricultura y Alimentación, que representaba al sector europeo de comercio de ganado y carne en este debate, agregó que el bienestar animal es una prioridad absoluta para los agricultores, no solo porque los animales son su fuente de ingresos, sino también porque es parte del ADN de su trabajo. Esto debe establecerse como la base de todas las discusiones.
The sustainability of livestock and aquaculture production is a key business driver for the European feed industry. FEFAC has been assisting its members in providing animal nutrition solutions that help to increase the sustainability of livestock farming operations, from the respective environmental, economic and social perspectives. Substantial progress has been achieved already over the past decades, but clearly, there are still many challenges for the livestock sector that require the continued European feed industry involvement and support.
Entre les messages récurrents concernant la nocivité d’une surconsommation de viande et la visibilité donnée aux actions des organisations antispécistes, les médias traditionnels maintiennent une forte activité sur les sujets du flexitarisme et du véganisme. Bonne nouvelle pour les éleveurs : ce discours a très peu d’influence sur le grand public.
With livestock ‘getting blamed for everything from cancer to climate change’, the British Meat Processors Association has launched a new website to promote the environmental benefits of eating beef and other animals.
‘2021 will be a difficult year’: Meat analyst concerned for poultry, beef, and pork markets in Europe
Industry should be prepared for a ‘massive global financial crash’, says Gira Meat Director Rupert Claxton, who does not expect poultry, beef, and pork markets to be back at pre-COVID levels by next year.
‘It is paramount the UN ensures a discussion on livestock that is based on facts’
The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) is writing today to voice our concerns over the misleading claims contained within the United Nations (UN) Act Now campaign, specifically regarding the “Eat Less Meat” initiative.
Europe must resist attempts to use coronavirus as a Trojan horse against animal agriculture
Of all the businesses and enterprises impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, Europe’s farms are among the most vulnerable – and the most essential. At a time when demand for safe, affordable food is spiking, the pandemic has restricted access to agricultural workers, as well as disrupting processing operations on livestock farms.
And on top of these pressures, farmers are also facing attempts to use COVID-19 to influence EU policy and undermine animal agriculture by falsely linking the outbreak with modern farming practices, which are often maligned and poorly understood.
From a business perspective, this is unhelpful, but from a scientific perspective, this is entirely misguided. Coronavirus – like SARS, Ebola and almost three quarters of infectious, animal-borne diseases – was not created on a farm, but most likely originated in wildlife.
Genetically modified cows are currently being used by an American biotech firm to produce human antibodies that subdue SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing Covid-19 – with plans to start clinical trials this summer.
SAB Biotherapeutics, a US firm based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, genetically alters dairy cows so that certain immune cells carry the DNA that allows people to make antibodies.
That modification “enables the animals to manufacture large quantities of human antibodies against a pathogen protein injected into them”, the company claims.
Greenhouse gas emissions by large herbivores are not a phenomenon these days. Professor Pulina clarifies this issue, and reveals a noteworthy aspect: if we eliminated all farms and animals were free to graze in nature, their contribution to greenhouse gases would be exactly the same.
It seems paradoxical that in a world where thousands of tons of greenhouse gases from cars, planes, ships, power plants, factories, landfills, rice fields, etc. are discharged into the atmosphere every day, we want to blame the flatulence of farmed herbivorous animals for the greenhouse effect and climate change, a completely natural phenomenon with very ancient origins.
Not everybody can thrive on vegan or vegetarian diets
One of the key visions set out in the European Commission’s Farm to Fork Strategy – which was published last month and is set to pave the way for the formation of the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – is an intention to transition EU food consumption trends towards “a more plant-based diet with less red meat”.
In the document it is clearly stated that this food shift is being proposed on environmental, health and sustainability grounds.
Dr. Frédéric Leroy of the Food Science and Biotechnology Department at Vrije Universiteit Brussel – whose research primarily deals with the ecological aspects and functional roles of bacteria in foods, with a specific focus on animal products – has offered his perspective on such a proposed dietary change and its potential impact on animal agriculture throughout the bloc.
There has been a rapid digital transformation in the global agricultural sector over the last few months because of COVID-19. Farmers and other key industry players are more acutely aware of the need for sustainable and efficient farming practices. “Empowering farmers and the industry with a connected, AI driven platform is a necessity for the future of food production. The COVID-19 outbreak has brought into sharp focus the weaknesses in our food system that is disconnected and faces threats from climate change and a dwindling labor workforce. With the support of our top-class investors, customers and partners, we are well positioned to democratize access to our technology to millions of farmers across the globe”, says Yasir Khokhar, CEO of Connecterra.
Coronavirus: est-il possible d’être contaminé en consommant de la viande?
Depuis maintenant plusieurs jours, les “clusters” dans les abattoirs se sont multipliés partout dans le monde, tout comme sur le territoire français. Dans les Côtes-d’Armor tout d’abord, où 69 cas positifs ont été confirmés, puis dans le Loiret où 34 employés ont également été testés. Au total, une centaine de personnes, dans ces deux foyers, ont été atteints du Covid-19, sans qu’aucun cas grave n’ait été signalé.
Pour autant, la consommation de viande animale semble sans risque pour l’homme. Comme le signale l’Anses, l’Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement, et du travail, plusieurs études ont été effectuées sur différentes espèces: porcs, canards, poulets, a qui le coronavirus a été inoculé de manière expérimentale. Les conclusions sont claires, les animaux ne sont pas réceptifs à la maladie.
Authorities urged to support struggling meat sector post-coronavirus
More than 65 organisations and individuals across producer, veterinary, research, and academic sectors have co-signed a letter calling for more support in the global meat sector in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and urging authorities to refute claims that the crisis stemmed from the livestock sector.
EU Ministers for Agriculture this week backed grasslands, crop rotation, reduced tillage, direct sowing, afforestation and agroforestry, as the ways to maximise carbon sequestration on agricultural land.
‘Meat is part of a sustainable world’: Professor Louise Fresco
Professor Louise Fresco used the prestigious City Food Lecture in London to argue in favour of the shift towards flexitarian and reductionist diets. But she warned against doing away with meat consumption altogether.
Livestock grazing is vital ‘interference’ to boost biodiversity, new Plantlife study finds
Livestock grazing has a crucial role to play in addressing a dramatic decline in biodiversity-rich wildflower meadows, according to a prominent botanist who warns that totally abandoning land to nature will do more environmental harm than good.
YES, EATING MEAT AFFECTS THE ENVIRONMENT, BUT COWS ARE NOT KILLING THE CLIMATE
Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. A key claim underlying the associated arguments is that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. In this article Frank Mitloehner, Professor of Animal Science and Air Quality Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis sets the record straight on meat and greenhouse gases.
Opinion: The latest flip-flop on red meat uses best science in place of best guesses
The recent ‘turnaround’ on advice about read meat consumption made big headlines recently with people questioning how nutrition advice can flip so apparently easily?
This opinion piece in the LA Times by investigative journalist Nina Teicholz outlines the view that some nutrition recommendations have been based on a type of weak science that experts have unfortunately become accustomed to relying upon. The recent papers question that “iffy science”.
After decades in which the number of people choosing to cut out meat from their diet has steadily increased, the alarmist and pressure-filled headlines continue to support arguments that the world needs to change the way that it eats. In this article Martin Cohen, Visiting Research Fellow in Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire and Frédéric Leroy, Professor of Food Science and Biotechnology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel take on the question of whether the world should consider going vegan.
Cars or livestock: which contribute more to climate change?
What we choose to eat, how we move around and how these activities contribute to climate change is receiving a lot of media attention. In this context, greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and transport are often compared, but in a flawed way. In this article Anne Mottet and Henning Steinfeld from the UN FAO outline the pitfalls of simplification when looking at greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.