Consumers want to know: Is animal production taking food out of my mouth? Are cows eating MY food?
The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology aims to address those questions and others in a new video released Thursday. The group says helping consumers learn about the role animals can have in a healthy diet sheds light on how livestock production can maximize resources that could otherwise be unusable.
In the video, scientific experts address the knowledge gap that exists as to the quantity of human food and fiber by-products used within animal agriculture. It expands on the "feed versus food" issue, using science-based information such as:
• Global animal agriculture provides 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 of the 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 explains, adding 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, CAST says, which is why the video focuses on 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 is based on the text of a CAST issue paper, Animal Feed vs. Human Food: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustaining Animal Agriculture Toward 2050.