7 May 2015

Blaming farmers for emissions 'too easy'

7:31 am on 7 May 2015

A food security expert is pointing the finger at consumers and saying, if the world is to successfully fight climate change, people need to eat less meat.

Meat at a butcher's shop

Photo: 123rf

Professor Pete Smith teaches environment and food security at the University of Aberdeen in the UK.

He recently told a New Zealand conference on mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas emissions that there were a number of technical measures that could be taken with animals to reduce their gas emissions.

But Professor Smith said the demand for meat, and the amount of food wasted globally, had largely been under-researched and he believed a reduction in both would help.

"It's a bit too easy to point the finger at the farmer and say, 'This is your problem you need to clean up your act and you need to reduce your emissions.' That's all too easy for all of us to say," he said.

"Actually, we're the consumers, we're demanding the products that the farmers are producing for us.

"And one way of reducing your personal carbon footprint is to shift towards a diet that has a lower carbon footprint - largely, for people that are in countries that are overconsuming meat and livestock products, that means eating less meat and livestock.

"You don't necessarily have to go vegetarian or vegan but people who still eat meat can eat it less often."

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