Rapid predicted worldwide growth in demand for animal products to 2020—the so-called “next food revolution” in animal agriculture—portends complex interactions among people, biological and geophysical resources, and economic objectives. A restructuring of global food demands is expected: in contrast to current patterns, most (>60%) global production of meat and milk will be consumed by households in the developing countries (Delgado et al., 1999). The key drivers of this change are income growth, population growth, urbanization, and increased opportunities for trade. We identified some of the environmental risks, and recuperative effects, of animal agriculture in a recent article (Nicholson et al., 2001). This presentation focuses more broadly on the ecosystem impacts of conversion of land to agricultural uses, concentrating on systems with ruminant livestock, the linkages to growth in animal products demand, and priorities for policy and research. Two key questions are “How can (should) international agricultural researchers, the development community, and policy makers support the beneficial aspects of the growth in demand for animal products while minimizing negative environmental outcomes?” and “Who should pay for changes to agricultural systems to reduce or mitigate environmental impacts?” The answers to both these questions are likely to be site-specific due to differences in biophysical settings, values, and political realities.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/cfnichol/3/