Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Study advises people to limit meat consumption

EVERYONE A WINNER Eating less meat could help to cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as provide health benefits to people in rich countries


People in rich countries should limit their meat-eating to the equivalent of one hamburger per person per day to help stave off global warming, a study published by The Lancet yesterday suggests.

That would be their contribution to a proposed 10 percent cut in global meat consumption by 2050, a goal that would brake greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture yet also improve health for rich and poor nations alike, it says.

The paper is released online as part of a seminar by the British medical weekly into the impacts of climate change on global health.

Its authors point out that 22 percent of the planet's total emissions of greenhouse gases come from agriculture, a tally similar to that of industry and more than that of transport.

Livestock production, including transport of livestock and feed, account for nearly 80 percent of agricultural emissions, mainly in the form of methane, a potent heat-trapping gas.

At present, the global average meat consumption is 100g per person per day, which varies from 200g-250g in rich countries to 20g-25g in poor countries.

The global average should be cut to 90g per day by 2050, with rich nations working to progressively scale down their meat consumption to that level while poor nations would do more to boost their consumption, the authors propose.

Not more than 50g per day should come from red meat provided by cattle, sheep, goats and other ruminants.

The authors are led by Anthony McMichael, professor at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University, Canberra.

"A substantial contract in meat consumption in high-income countries should benefit health, mainly by reducing the risk of ... heart disease ... obesity, colorectal cancer and, perhaps some other cancers. An increase in the consumption of animal products in low-intake populations, towards the proposed global mean figure, should also benefit health," it says.

Meanwhile, climate change is affecting Europe faster than the rest of the world and rising temperatures could transform the Mediterranean into a salty and stagnant sea, according to experts.

Warmer waters and increased salinity could doom many of the sea's plant and animal species and ravage the fishing industry, warned participants at a two-day national climate change conference that brought together some 2,000 scientists and officials in Rome.

``Europe and the Mediterranean are warming up faster than the rest of the world,'' climatologist Filippo Giorgi said on Wednesday. ``It's a climate change hot spot, one of the areas where we actually see the change happening.''

Scientists still don't know why the region is more sensitive to climate change, but Giorgi said that in the next decades temperature increases hitting Europe during the summer could be 40 percent to 50 percent higher than elsewhere.

The change is also being felt at sea level, with a surface temperature increase of 0.6oC every decade, said Vincenzo Ferrara, an Italian government adviser on climate.

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