Biased study misrepresents climate impact of poultry industry

Several recent news reports have exaggerated claims that current meat processing practices will cause global climate catastrophe, while failing to cite the partisan source of the original research.

The study, published February 1 in PLOS Climate, alleges that “the end of animal agriculture has the unique potential to dramatically reduce atmospheric levels of the three main greenhouse gases, which, because we have been reluctant to respond to the climate crisis, is now necessary to avoid a climate catastrophe”, according to a press release from the leader. author, Michael Eisen, professor of molecular and cellular biology at the University of California at Berkeley.

Unsurprisingly, the second author of this article is Patrick Brown, the CEO of Impossible Foods, one of the largest manufacturers of plant-based proteins. Eisen is also a consultant for the company.

Of course, Impossible Foods wants to end traditional meat production. They want you to eat their products, including Impossible Chicken Nuggets, a soy-based meat alternative that debuted last fall.

Advocates of meat alternatives tout the products as better for you, better for animals and better for the environment. I’ve already debunked claims that plant-based protein is a healthier alternative to traditional protein, now it’s time to talk about the environmental impact and sustainability efforts of poultry production and processing.

The poultry industry deserves recognition for its sustainability

Modern poultry production and processing has made huge strides in sustainability in recent years, something the public does not give the industry enough credit for.

Between 2010 and 2020, the broiler industry reduced land use by 13%, greenhouse gas emissions by 18%, water consumption by 13%, fossil resource use by 22% and particulate emissions by 22%, according to the 2020 Broiler Chicken Industry Sustainability Study. Reporting.

I was also impressed with all the innovative ways the poultry industry is innovating to reduce environmental impact. Over the past two years, I’ve written about several new technologies and projects that sought to find new uses for poultry processing by-products, solar panel installations, efforts to reduce plastic waste in from packaging, efforts to recycle waste water from poultry by using it to irrigate crops. and feed formulations that use everything from brewery waste to insects.

Given that a core consumer believes agtech is the path to sustainability, it certainly feels like meat and poultry are getting an undeserved bad rap here.

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