[Diggers350] Re: Meat: a Benign Extravagance - new book by Simon Fairlie

ilyan ilyan.thomas at virgin.net
Fri Sep 24 00:45:29 BST 2010

  Yes Tim,  But overpopulation leads to overgrazing which kills forests 
and can produce deserts.  It is even worse now with industrialisation 
poisoning the planet.

On 23/09/2010 11:10, Tim Leyland wrote:
> I detect the odd gap in Tony’s knowledge.
> Horses are quite distinct from cattle in their dietary habits. Cattle 
> will eat straws and stover and can convert the energy in these 
> by-products into protein. Stovers are even more productive if you chop 
> them or convert them into silage.
> Recent research in Bangladesh shows the average daily milk yield per 
> cow increased from 6.25 to 7.22 kg with supplementing maize stover 
> silage. The milk fat percentage was also increased from 4.18 to 4.30 
> percent. Finally, the daily income (BDT/cow/d) from milk increased 
> (P<0.01) from 76.8 to 93.4 after subtraction of total feed cost. This 
> is very significant for a poor farmer trying to send kids to school 
> and buy some health care.
> Lets also not forget that in many developing countries, livestock 
> keeping is a multifunctional activity. Beyond their direct role in 
> generating food and income, livestock are a valuable asset, serving as 
> a store of wealth, collateral for credit and an essential safety net 
> during times of crisis. Livestock are also central to mixed farming 
> systems. As mentioned above they do consume waste products from crop 
> and food  production, help control  insects and weeds, produce manure 
> for fertilizing and conditioning fields and provide draught power for 
> ploughing and transport. In some areas, livestock perform a public 
> sanitation function by consuming waste products that would otherwise 
> pose a serious pollution and public health problem.
> At the global level, (to quote from the UN - FAO) livestock contribute 
> 15 percent of total food energy and 25 percent of dietary protein. 
> Products from livestock provide essential micronutrients that are not 
> easily obtained from plant based
> foods.
> Almost 80 percent of the world’s undernourished people live in rural 
> areas and most depend on agriculture, including livestock, for their 
> livelihoods. Data from the FAO also shows that, in a sample of 14 
> countries, 60 percent of rural households keep livestock. A 
> significant  share of the livestock outputs of rural households is 
> sold, making a sizeable contribution to household cash income. In some 
> countries, the poorest rural households are more likely to hold 
> livestock than wealthier ones; although the average number of 
> livestock per household is quite small, this makes livestock an 
> important entry point for poverty alleviation efforts.
> The anti livestock sentiments in developed countries are making it 
> increasing difficult to gain support for research to help these poor 
> farmers make a better living........... for example by making silage 
> out of maize stover.
> When I met George Monbiot he was on his way to northern Kenya to 
> expose some of the anti-pastoralist policies of governments in the 
> Horn of Africa. He will have seen how pastoralists manage to make a 
> living in semi-desert by keeping livestock. In areas where crops could 
> never be grown. Perhaps this experience influenced his point of view.
> Tim
> *From:* Diggers350 at yahoogroups.com [mailto:Diggers350 at yahoogroups.com] 
> *On Behalf Of *Alison Banville
> *Sent:* 21 September 2010 11:10 AM
> *To:* diggers350 at yahoogroups.com
> *Subject:* [Diggers350] Re: Meat: a Benign Extravagance - new book by 
> Simon Fairlie
> The Knight With a Drooping Lance
> Never place people on pedestals, says Tony Wardle, for the taller you 
> build
> them, the greater the height your heroes have to defecate on you
> A latter-day Don Quixote, tilting at the windmills of imaginary 
> environmental
> and political horrors, astride his trusty steed Rocinante (aka the 
> Guardian).
> That’s how the Right perceive George Monbiot. Truth is, he’s been a 
> voice of
> sanity on political and environmental issues for years and has an 
> enviable track
> record of book writing, journalism and action.
> But - and it’s a big but – he never mentioned the devastating impact 
> on the
> planet of livestock production for meat and dairy.
> I once asked his ex-girlfriend (now there’s a conversation stopper) 
> why? Her
> answer was instant: “George loves his meat too much – you’ll never get 
> him to
> give that up!” Always one for a challenge, I started feeding 
> information to him
> and then, in 2002, it seemed I’d struck gold as George’s column 
> said:“Veganism
> is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world’s most 
> urgent social
> justice issue.”
> That article has been circulated around the animal movement ever since 
> like some
> holy grail. Then, on September 6, 2010, George quietly urinated on 
> this burning
> admiration: “I was wrong about veganism. Let them eat meat – but farm it
> properly.” By properly he means stop feeding animals grain and give 
> them food we
> don’t eat.
> He starts with pigs - the perfect waste-disposal systems, turning 
> dross into
> meat. There is enough food waste and crop residues to produce 800,000 
> tons of
> pork annually, he says, clearly working on the claim that we waste 
> something
> like one-third of the food we buy.
> Think of the state of the stuff you throw away as being inedible. Now 
> imagine it
> sitting in a bin for perhaps a week or more before being collected and 
> mixed
> with other people’s putrefying, maggot-ridden meat and fish scraps. 
> Imagine the
> logistics and fuel use of collecting these separate little parcels of
> putrefaction, boiling them up and redistributing them to individual 
> farms as
> heavy, liquid feed - swill.
> The reason swill isn’t used any more is an over-reaction to BSE and 
> foot and
> mouth scares, he says. Truth is, there was very little swill in use 
> even before
> this for the simple reason that pigs don’t thrive on this unbalanced, 
> unnatural
> filth.
> He claims that a pig’s natural diet includes a fair bit of meat, which 
> is again
> untrue. Pigs are predominantly vegetarian rooters with a few 
> invertebrates,
> worms and amphibians thrown in - a tiny proportion of the total.
> The claim is made to justify the insane recommendation that pigs 
> should be fed
> meat and bone meal “so long as it is properly rendered.” How do you 
> render meat
> and bone, George, to ensure that prions are destroyed? You can’t 
> because they
> can withstand virtual incineration. These organisms, at the very 
> frontiers of
> science, have infected not just cattle with BSE but 28 other species, 
> including
> humans.
> Their discoverer, Nobel Prize winner Professor Stanley Prusiner, is 
> currently
> researching whether they may be behind the current explosion of 
> Alzheimer’s
> disease in meat-eating countries across the world.
> George then turns to cattle and for them recommends: “straw, stovers 
> and grass
> from fallows and rangelands.” Stovers (dry corn leaves) and straw are
> nutritionally almost valueless and unpalatable, which is why horses 
> don’t eat
> the straw bedding in their stables. Even on mixed animal/arable farms 
> you can
> see growing mountains of straw bales for which farmers have no use and 
> animals
> won’t eat.
> Grass fallow land? Now there’s a blast from the past  –  it’s a distant
> agricultural memory. You won’t find enough fallow land to feed a hutch 
> of hungry
> rabbits. And rangelands? All over the world - from the USto the Far 
> East, South
> Americato Africaand Australia– rangelands are seriously degraded from
> overgrazing, causing species extinction and soil erosion. Some 72 per 
> cent of
> all arid and semi-arid rangelands are on the way to becoming desert – 
> and they
> make up one-third of the planet’s land surface.
> He then uses these grossly inaccurate claims to rewrite the 
> well-researched
> science on conversion rates – how many kgs of vegetable protein it 
> takes to
> produce one kg of meat protein. It magically transforms from the 17:1 
> in the
> case of beef, established by Loma Linda and Amsterdamuniversities, 
> into 2:1.
> It follows that all George’s other assumptions built on this false 
> premise are
> equally nonsensical.
> Next comes water, with the claim that we have stupidly included all 
> the rain
> that falls on any given pasture in arriving at the proposition that it 
> takes
> 100,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef. You might have, 
> George, but I
> haven’t.
> My figures vary but are taken from peer-reviewed research and are 
> based on all
> the water used in meat production; grazing, fodder growing, slaughter and
> preparation. They also include the 60 per cent of all the world’s 
> agricultural
> land that is irrigated (it’s only Californiathat uses irrigation, 
> according to
> George).
> Take a little aeroplane ride across the Western States, George, and 
> you’ll see
> that every field you traverse is perfectly circular. Why? Because they 
> are boom
> irrigated by pumping up water from the Ogallala aquifer and further 
> South by
> extracting it from Lake Meadand other huge reservoirs – all of which 
> are drying
> up. The bulk of these fields grow water-greedy fodder and is why 36 US 
> States
> face severe water shortages within five years, a problem repeated all 
> over the
> world.
> Next under attack is the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation for its 
> “daft” claim
> that livestock produce 18 per cent of greenhouse gases. A 400 page 
> report with
> 666 references - daft it isn’t! In fact it is supported by
> CranfieldUniversitywhich has done its own research (How Low Can We 
> Go?) and
> comes to almost exactly the same figure. They’re both wrong, according to
> George, for stupidly blaming deforestation on cattle ranching when 
> logging is
> the true cause.
> Timber taken by loggers isn’t destroyed but sawn up and used in 
> products which
> can last for decades. The CO2 emissions come from torching the 
> vegetation that
> remains - shrubs and low-level plants, ferns and saplings, palms, 
> mid-level and
> non target trees, vines and epiphytes. Loggers have no need to do 
> this; it’s
> done to make the land ready for cattle ranching. The soil eventually 
> turns to
> near desert through the usual mechanisms of over grazing and agro 
> chemicals.
> So in fact, the true figure is higher than 18 per cent because the 
> vital carbon
> sinks provided by new forest growth and healthy soil are both destroyed,
> reducing the planet’s ability to absorb future CO2.
> And so it goes on, scientifically bereft claims which George’s grabs 
> from a
> single book and stuffs himself with them greedily in a monstrous act 
> of self
> justification so he can continue to eat meat. The book is Meat: A Benign
> Extravagance, by ex-beef farmer Simon Fairlie.
> The most depressing aspect of Monbiot’s article is that he turns on 
> its head the
> advice he has been proffering for years – demand, resist, act, take 
> control,
> call to account. With a stroke of his pen, consumers are turned into 
> supine,
> powerless bystanders waiting for global changes which are entirely out 
> of their
> hands and require such extraordinary international co-operation that 
> they could
> never happen. And even if they did, would not work.
> Meantime, environmental catastrophes gather like huge, black clouds on 
> the
> horizon, threatening the lives of billions. No matter how arcane George’s
> claims, the answer is extremely simple and puts you in control – distance
> yourself immediately from these disasters and refuse to consume animal 
> products
> and proselytise your decision. And that includes you, George!
> The last word has to go that Bedfordshire-based shrine of capitalist 
> learning,
> Cranfield. On global warming it says that the Government has no hope 
> of reaching
> its essential targets for CO2 reduction unless we adopt a vegetarian diet!
> So George, dust off your armour, get back on your white charger, 
> straighten out
> your lance, avoid the windmills and ride into battle against the real 
> baddies
> before we all become victims of your friendly fire.
> Tony Wardle
> Associate Director
> tony at viva.org.uk <mailto:tony%40viva.org.uk>
> Viva!
> 8 York Court
> Wilder Street
> BristolBS2 8QH
> 0117 944 1000
> www.viva.org.uk
> www.vegetarian.org.uk
> www.factoryfarming.org.uk
> www.savethekangaroo.com
> www.tonywardle.co.uk
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