Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Feeding a Food Hungry World and Sustaining Animal Welfare Standards
Last week, Director of the JMICAWE, Professor Natalie Waran, was invited by the Association of Veterinary teaching and research workers to give a plenary talk as part of the British Society for Animal Science conference in Nottingham. The two day conference brought together researchers, policy makers, vets, farmers and industry representatives to debate the issues and challenges associated with producing food from healthy animals that is healthy for consumers, economically sustainable and from systems that benefit the environment and encompass good welfare and ethics. In the 30 minute presentation entitled 'Can we sustain Welfare Standards in a food hungry world'?, Prof Waran described the extent of the issue, with 9 billion people worldwide, and around 925 million people undernourished and a need to double food production in Asia over the next 30 years to feed a rapidly expanding world population. With the demand for food from animals rising as a result of population growth and a more urban based population demanding a diet containing more meat, dairy and eggs – animal welfare is of real concern. Prof Waran discussed the link between human health and animal health and welfare – and highlighted the importance of constantly improving animal welfare standards for reducing on-farm risks to food safety and ensuring food security. Along with reducing meat intake, refining methods for producing animal products, she considered the potential of replacing meat with plant based protein as well as the potential for GM and growing meat in a test tube and the importance of addressing over consumption and food waste. Finally she raised the important issue of responsibility – suggesting that government,corporate and personal responsibility for food distribution, food production and food wastage as well as greater funding to achieve science and technology advances geared towards the issues faced by the developing countries were needed, alongside improved education and communication about the relationship between good animal welfare standards and human health and welfare- if we are to effectively tackle the problem of how to feed our growing world.