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ASEAN ANALYSIS  28 September 2010

Sustainability -on meat?

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs   28 September 2010

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In the three Save Our Planet forums sponsored by AseanAffairs that have been held (the fourth is slated for New Delhi, India in December) sustainability is a key issue.

How can civilization be sustained in the face of declining energy and food resources and an increasing population?

The answer to this question is one that governments, private companies and some individuals are attempting to develop.

In the face of this important issue comes a report from experts attending the World Meat Congress said Monday in Buenos Aires.

The challenge to the meat producers is how to achieve sustainable production of a yearly production of 460 million tons of meat in 2050, when the world population is projected to 9 billion.

In addition to the population increase, a cultural change is occurring and it is quite noticeable in Asia. As developing countries prosper, the consumption of meat increases.

According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the Chinese consumption of meat has increased by four, up to 59.5 kilograms per year from 13.7 kilograms.

It seems the hamburgers offered by among others, McDonald’s restaurants, have made their cultural impact on the traditional Asian diet. Or perhaps the stories of those great Australian “barbies” have made their way across the oceans.

This need to produce more meat comes at a time when the amount arable land on the globe has decreased through the expansion of cities, the development of sprawling suburbs and the accumulated effects of air and water pollution. Don’t forget China’s desertification.

The WFP estimates that global production of beef, pork and lamb needs to double when the current world population of 6 billion increases by 50 percent.

This candid estimate points out the need for drastic changes in how we treat the planet as well as personal lifestyles.

Feeding animals protein is an indirect and inefficient way of producing food. Should the western countries take the lead in diet change? What’s your view?

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