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FAO: livestock breeding is essential for healthy diets and sustainable food systems

This was stated in a report recently relaunched by the website European Livestock Voice

22, Aug 2023

Livestock farms are crucial in ensuring healthy diets and sustainable food systems. The key statement emerges from a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and confirms the fundamental role of livestock, contributing significantly to the global understanding of the benefits of meat production and consumption.

The report "Contribution of terrestrial animal source food to healthy diets for improved nutrition and health outcomes" argues that, within appropriate dietary patterns, meat and other foods produced from terrestrial animals can make a vital contribution to achieving the Development Goals Sustainable Development Goals - SDG Nutritional Targets. This includes helping to reduce stunting, wasting and undernourishment among children; improve birth weight; reduction of anemia in women of reproductive age; reduction of obesity and noncommunicable diseases in adults.

The study, published last June, was relaunched by the European Livestock Voice website. The evaluation consists of four documents. This first component paper provides a holistic analysis of the contribution of terrestrial animal food to healthy diets for improved nutrition and health outcomes for people's lives.

Based on data and evidence from more than 500 scientific papers and 250 policy documents, the report highlighted that animal proteins are irreplaceable and that foods of animal origin such as meat, eggs and milk are essential sources of nutrients that cannot be easily obtained from plant based foods. According to the FAO report, macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins and micronutrients in meat, eggs and milk play an important role in human health and development. So it bears repeating that those nutrients are difficult to obtain from plant-based alternatives in sufficient quantity and quality.

Different foods derived from animal production systems, including grazing and herding systems and wild animal hunting, provide high-quality proteins, important fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals, contributing to healthy diets for better nutrition and health. Livestock can also help fight famine, given that, between 2019 and 2022, the number of undernourished people increased by 150 million, according to the NGO Action Against Hunger. This year, 345 million people (half of whom are children) will be food insecure. One in five deaths among children under five is attributed to severe wasting.

Globally, more than a billion people depend on livestock value chains. In this area, small-scale farmers and pastoralists make up the largest proportion of livestock producers. Well-integrated livestock production increases the resilience of small-scale agricultural systems. Livestock also provide other important ecosystem services in landscape management, providing energy and helping to improve soil fertility. Livestock species are adapted to various environments, including areas unsuitable for agricultural production. For example, grassland or grassland ecosystems occupy 40 percent of the world's land area, so when cattle ranchers use that land for their grazing animals, they turn otherwise unsuitable grassland vegetation into food.

New York, United States, 08/21/2023 08:48 AM
EFA News - European Food Agency

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