Fw: farming today: the finale
- ----- Original Message -----From: peter whiteTo: peter whiteSent: Saturday, January 17, 2004 12:37 PMSubject: Re: farming today: the finaleHiSo on 16 Jan Farming Today featured the following recorded response from Tony Weston of the Vegan Society to the topic first aired in late December. After the original broadcast, the programme recieved many emails from VOT supporters and others also refuting the original panels views. The topic would not have been brought up again without all these contacts so many thanks to all who took this issue up.A brief mention is all that can be expected in this instance, but VOT will be back in touch with the producer now to ask for a feature explaining what vegan-organics is all about and highlighting its benefits as demonstrated by our successful vegan-organic growers.Peter"On December 27th, panellists on the Farming Today programme were asked what the effect on the countryside would be if everyone were to go vegan. While we respect the views expressed by the panellists, we feel that they failed to recognise the environmental damage that is being caused by modern day livestock production.
Richard Winspear, of the RSPB, suggested that if everyone became vegan, the change in land use would lead to loss of habitat for a variety of species. What he failed to mention was the ongoing habitat destruction being caused worldwide by intensive livestock production. Intensive arable farming, deforestation and land degradation all represent the destruction of ecosystems, resulting in massive loss of biodiversity. Livestock production is a major contributing factor in all of these problems.
The intensification of crop production has been driven largely by an increasing demand for animal products. 45% of the worlds grain harvest is now fed to animals and only a percentage of the protein and calories from this grain is converted into edible animal products. This means that a large percentage of the grain grown worldwide and the land on which it is grown - is effectively wasted. If we recognise the destructiveness of intensive crop production, then we must recognise that consumption of animal products is one of the main contributing factors.
Worldwide deforestation is one of the main causes of habitat loss and species extinction. Forests are being destroyed not only to provide wood, paper and fuel, but also to provide land for agriculture both for growing crops and for grazing animals. It has been estimated that agricultural expansion accounts for around 60% of deforestation.
Mr Winspear stated that some habitats require grazing. This may be true, but the reality is that overgrazing is a far more serious problem than undergrazing. Globally, nearly 2 billion hectares (ha) of land are affected by degradation to various degrees this loss of fertile soil not only has serious consequences for natural habitats but also for future food production. Overgrazing is the primary cause of the problem, accounting for about 35% of degraded lands. In the UK, we need only look to the effects of overgrazing by sheep on the hills of Scotland and Wales to see the environmental problems that livestock production can cause.
Our waterways also suffer. Cattle slurry can be up to 100 times more polluting than raw human sewage. When it runs off the fields and into rivers, lakes and streams, it can result in eutrophication, which can lead to the death of plant and animal life and the destruction of ecosystems. Examples of this type of pollution are all too common, a fact that Helen Richardsons concerns about the abandonment of grazing land leading to water pollution failed to take into account".
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