Livestock has green credentials: government advisor

Livestock has all sorts of positive effects in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, a leading scientific advisor to the Scottish Government has said.

Professor Maggie Gill, chief scientific adviser for Scottish rural affairs and the environment, told the Langford Food Conference in a speech that there are figures out there to prove these facts and that the UK livestock industry should get this message across.

In her talk on ‘Informing food policy with integrated evidence’, Professor Gill explained to delegates that many of the figures used in the argument against meat-eating did not tell the full picture.

She said: “There is some great data in France about the benefits that some livestock systems are carbon neutral because of keeping the carbon in the soil. If you look at the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), where is the great potential for mitigation? It’s not actually methane. Yes there’s potential there, but the greatest potential on a world wide basis is cropland management and grassland management. And we need to be promoting this fact.

“The French are doing it well, they’ve got the numbers, they’re publicising it. We need to be coming out with these numbers. All these numbers on the carbon per kilo of a product, they don’t take into account the fact that grazing animals can benefit biodiversity. They are just going down that carbon route. They don’t take into account the fact that, where we like to, we can turn by-products into meat and milk. They don’t take into account the fact that if we get manure coming out of these animals, there’s less carbon going into fertiliser.”

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