Asia’s meat eat­ing raises en­viro is­sues

The Witness - - FEATURES -

ASIA’S grow­ing ap­petite for meat and seafood over the next three decades will cause huge in­creases in green­house gas emis­sions and an­tibi­otics used in foods, re­searchers have said.

Ris­ing pop­u­la­tion, in­comes and ur­ban­i­sa­tion will drive a 78% in­crease in meat and seafood de­mand from 2017 to 2050, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Asia Re­search and En­gage­ment Pte Ltd, a Sin­ga­pore-based con­sul­tancy firm.

“We wanted to high­light that, be­cause of the large pop­u­la­tion and how fast the pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing, it is go­ing to put a strain on the en­vi­ron­ment,” said co-au­thor Serena Tan.

“By recog­nis­ing this and where it comes from, we can tackle the so­lu­tions,” she said.

With sup­ply chains ramp­ing up to meet de­mand, green­house gas emis­sions will jump from 2,9 bil­lion tons of CO2 per year to 5,4 bil­lion tons — the equiv­a­lent of the life­time emis­sions of 95 mil­lion cars — the re­searchers said.

A land area the size of In­dia will be needed for ad­di­tional food pro­duc­tion, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, while wa­ter use will climb from 577 bil­lion cu­bic me­tres per year to 1 054 bil­lion cu­bic me­tres per year.

The use of an­timi­cro­bials, which kill or stop the growth of mi­cro-or­gan­isms, and in­clude an­tibi­otics, will in­crease 44% to 39 000 tons per year, said the re­port.

Overuse and mis­use of an­tibi­otics in food is rife in south­east Asia, the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FAO) said this year, warn­ing of se­ri­ous risks for peo­ple and an­i­mals as bac­te­rial in­fec­tions be­come more re­sis­tant to treat­ment.

Grow­ing ur­ban ar­eas con­trib­ute to the ris­ing de­mand for meat and seafood be­cause peo­ple there usu­ally have bet­ter ac­cess to elec­tric­ity and re­frig­er­a­tion, said David Dawe, a se­nior econ­o­mist at the FAO in Bangkok.

“But in­come growth is the big driver,” he added.

In­done­sia, Cam­bo­dia, Laos, Myan­mar and Pak­istan are among na­tions likely to con­trib­ute most to the rise in meat and seafood con­sump­tion, while coun­tries with age­ing pop­u­la­tions, like China, will likely limit growth, Tan said.

Dawe said: “In many ways it’s a good thing for nutri­tion, but it does raise en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.”

— Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion.

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