Consumers have increasing questions about animal agriculture and whether or not it's good or bad. Many are concerned that animal agriculture takes away human food supplies and wastes resources. The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) wants to help answer those questions and help consumers learn about the role animals can have in a healthy diet, as well as maximizing resources that could otherwise be unusable. CAST has released a new video based on its Issue Paper Animal Feed vs. Human Food: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustaining Animal Agriculture Toward 2050. Scientific experts address the knowledge gap that exists as to the quantity of human food and fiber by-products used within animal agriculture. As Task Force Author Dr. Larry Berger (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) says, "During the last century, many consumers lost touch with food production; they need facts to make wise choices."
The video provides science-based information about the "feed versus food" issue, including the following:
- Global animal agriculture provides safe, affordable, nutrient-dense foodstuffs that support human health and well-being as part of a balanced diet as well as many by-products that benefit humans.
- The global livestock industry faces considerable challenges as the population grows, and demands for more food must be aligned with concerns about the environment, economy, and sustainability. Many may not realize the productivity gains made by modern practices, by-product feeds, and technology.
- Livestock production is important in the economic and social sustainability of developed and developing countries alike.
In the paper and during the video, Task Force Chair Dr. Jude Capper (University of Montana) uses statistics and common sense to explain why animal agriculture is important. "Cattle eat many types of feed-substances that are not edible by humans. This means a more sustainable system." She goes on to show that land incapable of supporting the production of human food crops can be used efficiently by ruminant animals to produce meat and milk products.
Improved communication is needed between livestock producers and consumers. The video provides information that will inform the general public, be useful for students researching animal agriculture, and be of value for organizations looking at the impact of using animals as a food source.The video and text of the Animal Feed vs. Human Food: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustaining Animal Agriculture Toward 2050 (Issue Paper No. 53) and its companion Ag quickCAST are available free of charge on the CAST website at www.cast-science.org.