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Less is more

A recent FAO report highlighted the opportunities for the livestock industry to reduce its environmental impact by adopting more efficient production methods. As the spotlight remains on reducing high levels of ‘food waste’, the NPA expressed concerns about the campaign to reintroduce the feeding of swill to pigs. In the US, the Chipotle ‘Scarecrow’ arrived as a new ambassador for the return to more traditional methods of food production.

The UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) published a new report 'Tackling Climate Change through Livestock' . The report highlighted that production of livestock accounted for a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions at around 14.5% - although this estimate was lower than that contained in an earlier FAO report 'Livestock's Long Shadow'), which put the meat industry’s share of emissions at 18%.

Among a number of conclusions, the latest FAO report concluded that a reduction of 30% in GHG emissions might be achieved relatively easily, if best practices were adopted in the main livestock producing areas of the world, with all livestock farmers matching the performance of the most efficient producers, particularly in relation to better feed conversion and animal husbandry.

Many food campaigning groups, such as 'Eating Better' expressed disappointment that the report did not fully consider strategies to reduce production and consumption of meat and dairy products.

The issue of ‘food waste’ remains high on the public agenda and the ‘The Pig Idea’ campaign continued to attract publicity. This initiative was launched in June this year by food writer, Tristram Stuart, calling for action to reintroduce the feeding of the significant quantities of edible food waste to pigs, which is currently sent to landfill sites.

The National Pig Association has expressed major misgivings about the campaign, however well-intentioned its objectives might be. A recent NPA press release raised the issue of feeding of swill and food waste to pigs, which had been the cause of comparatively recent outbreaks of Classical Swine Fever and Foot & Mouth Disease, which had a devastating effect on the UK pig industry. Pig farmers here were already significant users of by-products of food manufacture. The NPA articulated these views at a recent debate on food waste and pig feed, held under the auspices of the all-party parliamentary Agoecolgy Group

World Food Day was celebrated on 16th October, the anniversary of the founding of the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation in 1945. An FAO video outlined the problems of both hunger and obesity across the world, and the need to rethink our food systems on a global basis.
A call for a return to more traditional food production systems was highlighted in recent advertising carried out by the US Mexican food chain, Chipotle , under the headline of ‘Cultivate a better world’. A charmingly produced film, entitled ‘Scarecrow’ sought to dramatise the horrors of modern food produced in ‘factory farms’. As reported in the online newsletter, Food Production, the campaign was treated with cynical disdain by competitors, McDonalds, and other farming interests.