Problem

Misuse of agricultural resources for production of animal feed

Other Names:
Waste of proteins in factory farming
Nature:
Agricultural resources in developed countries (land, water, etc) are used primarily to raise crops to feed to farm animals for domestic consumption and production of meat and also to export feed-grains. This does not feed the poor and hungry in the developing countries but feeds farm animals for the more affluent to consume. This is because intensive farming techniques require the use of concentrated feed with a high protein content; but 80% of the protein content of concentrated grain feed is lost in converting plant protein to animal protein. The major part of grain commodities consumed by the industrialized countries is imported from developing countries where malnutrition among humans is widespread, where meat commodities do not compensate for plant commodities, and where surpluses of plant commodities are slight.
Incidence:
One third of the world's grain is fed to livestock, but animal foods account for only one tenth of the world's caloric intake. In the USA, about two thirds of the harvested acreage is used to grow food for livestock. Western developed nations export 3 million tonnes of grain protein to underdeveloped nations and import 4 million tonnes of protein in oilseeds and fish from these countries, most of which is fed to livestock. One third of Africa's protein-rich peanuts are fed to European livestock.

To feed the entire world on an average American diet would require twice the world's existing arable land and 80% of the world's energy.

Claim:
The problem of malnutrition in developing countries is widespread; factory farming, by encouraging the export of needed grain commodities to the already relatively well-nourished industrialized nations, increases the protein gap between rich and poor nations. In developed countries, where the standard of living, and hence the demand for meat and egg products, is rising, it is a common fallacy to equate high protein content with meat and egg products rather than with plant products.
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
18.01.2001 – 00:00 CET