More fuel for the food/feed debate

More fuel for the food/feed debate

An often criticized aspect of the food industry is the inefficiency of livestock converting feed to protein for human consumption; meat. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has looked into this assumption in a recent study, finding that animal products will for the foreseeable future, play an important part in global food security and nutrition.

Part of the misunderstanding is that most of the land that produces animal feed, is also arable land that could be used for human plant-based food production. An easy mistake to make, but incorrect. Most of the animal feed is resourced from forages, crop residues, and by-products that are inedible for human beings, and much of the land used for grazing is not suited at all for growing crops.

Because of this, the number of kilograms of grain needed to raise one kilogram of beef is often exaggerated. In fact, only 3 kilograms of cereal is needed to raise one kilogram of meat at a global level. As the population keeps growing, animal products play an essential role in our food system to meet the growing demand. More land will be needed unless the feed conversion ratio (an indicator of the amount of feed needed to produce food for human consumption) can be lowered further. For this goal, innovation is already taking place.

Around 500 million people rely on animal food production for their income, which only further underlines the vital role it has in our food system and economy.

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