Feeding livestock differently could feed a billion more people

Feeding livestock differently and reserving cereals and other sources of animal feed thus saved for humans would make it possible to feed a billion more people in the world, according to a study published this Monday, September 19 in the scientific journal “Nature Food”. .

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About 15% of the more than six billion tons of animal feed produced each year in the world is food that could feed humans directly. In detail, 68% of the feed that feeds poultry is made from products that are also edible by humans; the proportion is 49% for fish production and 38% for pork.

By having less competition between human food and livestock food, “about a billion people” more could be fed, explained to AFP the lead author of the study, Vilma Sandstrom, of Aalto University in Finland.

Edible alternatives

Researchers have identified alternatives edible by animals, not currently used, and which could replace part of animal feed: residues from agricultural production such as straw, leaves, distillers’ grains (residues mainly from the manufacture of ethanol made from wheat or corn), residues of sugar beet, rapeseed, cottonseed; but also co-products such as ground bone meal.

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“Many of these products are simply left in the fields or wasted”explains Vilma Sandstrom. “Although they are not immediately ready to be used to feed animals, it is a lever at our disposal. »

Especially since the cultivation of plants intended to feed livestock has a considerable impact on the environment and the climate, underlines the study. Livestock for meat production accounts for more than 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and agriculture uses more than three-quarters of the fresh water available on Earth.

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