10 January 2011

The Meat Crisis

Written by Published in Book Reviews

This is the kind of book which is likely to have you waking up in the night in a cold sweat. With the planet’s population set to explode by 2050, the amount of food needed to sustain our civilisation is growing exponentially. Yet we are increasing our consumption, rather than reducing it

In the next fifty years, at the current rate of consumption, a doubling of meat and milk production is predicted, with the slaughter of animals annually forecast to rise from 60bn to about 120bn. We will commit 40% of our cereal production and 94% of our soya production to keeping these animals alive before slaughter. 

Livestock production results in greenhouse gases, with animals responsible for more than a fifth of carbon emissions – more than transport is responsible for worldwide. Forests in South America are devastated from cattle ranching. Industrial farming has a disastrous effect on biodiversity. Animal excreta ends up in waterways causing pollution. The amount of water needed in the production processes is colossal, too.

Frightened yet? Well, you should be. Truly, modern industrial farming has become a Frankenstein of our time.The overwhelming evidence points to an urgent need to cut down radically the amount of meat we eat, or face dire consequences. This collection of essays from experts in various fields lays down the bottom line. Tudge’s comprehensive, inspiring opening chapter sets the standard.

He sets out how, rather than being kept to supplement the crops we grow, livestock has become the raison d’être, and is competing with us; he also suggests that, separated from morality, and following a market driven solely by cash, modern industrial farming has rejected biodiversity in favour of the quick buck. Yet, without reserve, all the contributions in The Meat Crisis are important.

The Meat Crisis 
eds Joyce D’Silva and John Webster (Earthscan) £24.95

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