New study explores livestock futures

Elin Röös and co-authors (among them DEVIL Lead Co-PI Pete Smith) published new research in the journal Global Environmental Change investigating the question whether achieving food security is a question of supply or demand. To do so, the team looked at combinations of seven different production scenarios, two dietary scenarios and four different assumptions on crop yield and waste reduction. The 56 different scenarios resulting from these combinations were used to estimate the agricultural land area needed and the greenhouse gases emitted in 2050.

The study found that yield gaps and waste need to be reduced in order for the available cropland area to be sufficient for futures that include intensive livestock production. Greenhouse gas emissions under the different scenarios are highly variable and larger land sparing does not necessarily result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The study confirms that sustainable future food systems require combined action on the supply and demand side and a reduction of waste – as had been shown in earlier research.

The paper entitled “Greedy or needy? Land use and climate impacts of food in 2050 under different livestock futures” can be viewed or downloaded as a PDF here.