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Food from plants versus food from animals: sustainability matters
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N. Scollan (IBERS, Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Science, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, United Kingdome) gave an invited speech at teh final Feed for Health Conference in Milan about Food from plants versus food from animals within the context of sustainability matters. You can now watch his presentation by video at the end of this new item The quest for polices to promote sustainability and security of food supply is increasing. This encompasses the need to feed everyone sustainability, equitably and healthily; addresses needs for availability, affordability and accessibility, diverse, ecologically sound and resilient systems and builds the capacities and skills required for the future. Global demand for both plant and animal derived food is expected to increase by 70% by 2050. Aligned with this is the pressure of increasing urbanization with important consequences on consumption patterns and food chains. Often the negative impact of livestock agriculture is considered with less emphasis on associated pressures in arable and horticulture. Both plant and animal food chains face major sustainability matters and their supply chains need to urgently reduce their environmental footprint. Livestock agriculture plays an important role in society, i.e. food security; provision of high quality protein and micronutrients; land management including biodiversity; provision of nutrients via manure in mixed cropped systems. In developed countries, such, livestock production and consumption makes a large contribution to food-related attributable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (~ 40%) and must be addressed. Major challenges for animal systems are in reducing use of feeds which could be used as food for man i.e. cereals and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Pigs and poultry systems have made large gains in feed conversion efficiency but have become more intensive and dependent on cereals as a major feed ingredient. Ruminants, in contrast, have the ability to utilize ligno-cellulose material and convert non-protein nitrogen into microbial protein. Future ruminant production systems will need to capitalize on these important benefits. Ruminant agriculture has a key role to play in maintaining and enhancing provision of protein and essential micronutrients (to man. In intensive ruminant systems (i.e. dairying), while it is expected that continued progress in technical efficiency will reduce GHG’s, the development and exploitation of novel technologies will be required to have a large impact on GHG emissions. In contrast, in extensive systems grassland carbon sequestration has the potential to play a significant role in mitigating the GHG balance of ruminant production systems. There is an urgent need for investment to support the further development of “sustainable food systems”, effective translation of science and technology into practice through knowledge exchange and training to elevate “skills” in the industry.

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