In a June 4 letter, “ EPA should look at meat producers,” Carmine Damiano cites figures related to greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture and suggests the Environmental Protection Agency should regulate emission from the “meat industry.”
She cites a 2006 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report that 18 percent of man-made GHG emissions come from animal agriculture and suggests the real percentage may be closer to 50 percent. The estimates have since been revised downward.
The reader is referred to the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change report in which agricultural and other land use was estimated to account for about 24 percent of all man-made GHG emissions. Of that, about half were attributed to agricultural production.
About half of this comes from animal agriculture, which brings the total man-made GHG emissions to roughly 6 percent, and in the U.S. this number is roughly 3 percent.
These are the facts the public needs to consider when mitigation practices or regulations are considered. GHG emissions from animal production have decreased by about 20 percent in the U.S. and other developed countries over the last 20 years, while yields and efficiency of production increased primarily resulting from the use of modern technology.
Technology has resulted in GHG intensity of eggs reduced by 57 percent, pig meat by 45 percent, milk by 38 percent and cattle meat by 27 percent. Few human endeavors are without some environmental impact, and with global animal protein demand estimated to double by 2050, efforts must be accelerated to protect from environmental degradation.
Troy L. Ott