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Man and animal competes for land to feed growing population

With the need to feed an estimated 9.7 billion people by 2050, there is ongoing competition for land between human and animal.

With the need to feed an estimated 9.7 billion people by 2050, there is ongoing competition for land between human and animal.


Livestock directly contribute to food supply by providing essential nutrients to humans, and indirectly support cultivation of food crops by providing manure and draft power.


Livestock, however, consume human edible food or graze on land suitable for cultivation of food crops.


Dr Hannah van Zanten from Wageningen University, said: “As we face feeding 9.7bn people by 2050, preferably without expanding the amount of agricultural land, there is an increasing need to avoid competition for land between animals and humans.


“We performed a review on studies which provide insight into the amount of animal-source food [ASF] produced without feed-food competition.


“So called default livestock are only fed with co-products, food waste, crop residues or biomass from grazing land.


“Results showed between 7g and 27g of animal source protein per person per day can be produced from default livestock.


“Considering feed-food crops and feeding food waste had an important contribution in this. Considering feed-food crops implies choices have to be made between different crops based on their contribution to feed and food production.


“The practice of feeding food waste to livestock is currently prohibited, but shows potential in extensively reducing the environmental impact of livestock production.


“Considering feed-food crops and feeding food waste are examples of mitigation strategies which currently can be implemented to reduce the environmental impact of the livestock sector.


“In mixed crop and livestock systems, particularly in developing countries, considering feed-food crops and using food waste are embedded in the production system, and can, therefore, be an example.


“In general, a paradigm shift is needed. Research should no longer focus on increasing efficiency of the animal or the animal production chain, but on increasing efficiency of the entire food system.


“Although ASF produced from default livestock does not fulfil the current demand for ASF, about one-third of the protein each person needs can be produced without competition for land between feed and food production.


“Livestock, therefore, has an important contribution to future nutrition supply.”

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