Diet and food shortage

  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 25 Jul 2017

CLIMATE change, due to production of greenhouse gases, has resulted in crop failures world-wide with a significant drop in cereal, grain and food production. Many countries that traditionally exported surplus grain have severely restricted or even stopped grain export altogether, resulting in higher grain prices.

Intensive livestock production is a major cause of methane production, especially by ruminant livestock such as cattle, sheep and goats, and from massive slurry pits or cesspools releasing methane.

Livestock production, especially poultry and pig rearing, diverts water and grains to feeding these livestock – which is less efficient than using the grains directly for human consumption.

Under intensive feedlot rearing, it takes 7kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef. And 4kg of grain to produce 1kg of pork.

It takes 214 litres of water to produce 1kg of tomatoes. But to produce 1kg of beef requires 15,515 litres of water.

The current trend towards imbalanced diets with low amounts of fruits and vegetables, and high amounts of red meat and processed meat, is responsible for many health problems affecting humans.

This unhealthy trend towards higher meat consumption is because populations around the world have grown more prosperous, with more middle-income societies.

However, such a trend is not sustainable because of lower food production worldwide due to the adverse effects of climate change.

Meat production is only sustainable when there is grain production in excess of human requirements and therefore the excess grains can then be marketed by feeding it to livestock and selling the meat as a more valuable transformed product of the excess grain.

Research by scientists at the Oxford Martin School found that if the world shifted to a mostly vegetarian diet or even cut down on meat consumption within accepted health guidelines, it will result in a significant reduction in global greenhouse gas production.

Adhering to health guidelines on meat consumption could cut global food-related emissions by nearly one-third by 2050, while adopting a vegan diet would bring down emissions by about two-thirds.

A healthy balanced diet, with more fruits and vegetables, is the answer to world food shortage and impending famine.


Kuala Lumpur

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