Global warming

04-02-2008 | | |
Van Der Sluis

Al Gore received the Nobel Prize for his work on Global Warming awareness. The Kyoto agreement, which got a follow-up at the Climate Conference in Bali, initiated a lot of actions including research projects to better understand the cause and contributing factors to global warming. Carbon reduction became the magic word and everybody was told that they should take measures to reduce the production and release of CO2. The poultry industry is not exempted from this obligation.

Al Gore received the Nobel Prize for his work on Global Warming awareness. The Kyoto agreement , which got a follow-up at the Climate Conference in Bali, initiated a lot of actions including research projects to better understand the cause and contributing factors to global warming. Carbon reduction became the magic word and everybody was told that they should take measures to reduce the production and release of CO2. The poultry industry is not exempted from this obligation.
Here I am not only referring to poultry growers but also to all links in the supply chain as well as processing and sales chain. Various non-governmental organisations (NGOs), no matter whether they deal with environment or animal welfare, have adopted the opinion that livestock production is the main cause of global warming.
The farming community, especially the livestock sector, does not receive much sympathy from city dwellers, when it comes to environmental and animal welfare issues. The majority of these people still believe that the old fashioned way of small scale (backyard) farming is better for the environment, the animals and the farmers. How wrong can they be and how easy can they be misled by unfounded statements by NGOs.
Unbiased researchers at the Cranfield University in Silsoe , UK, released a report last year on the impact of various agricultural commodities on global warming. Their conclusion were very interesting and positive for the poultry industry.
Not that poultry does not contribute to global warming, but it is the least contributor of all animal products, and significantly less than most greenhouse grown fruits and vegetables.
In-door poultry production better for the environment
From the conclusions, one would expect that indoor poultry production is an unfavourable system. On the contrary; free range and organic production contribute up to 10-30 % more to global warming than indoor production, while in addition it requires 65% to 200% more land for keeping birds and producing feed. This conclusion should not lead to the opinion that organic is bad for the environment.
Most importantly the Cranfield researchers have clearly proven that the modern poultry industry is a much less global warming burden than many environment and animal welfare movements would like the general public to believe.
The ‘positive’ outcome should not be seen as a call for satisfaction and rest, but an encouragement to make further improvements in reducing CO2 and N2O release, so we can have the lowest possible CO2 and N2O footprint for poultry meat and eggs.

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