Towards sustainability in the extensive and intensive livestock sectors

M Niamir-Fuller
Revue Scientifique et Technique 2016, 35 (2): 371-387
An increase in both human population and economic growth has been accompanied by rising per capita demand for animal products. The livestock industry is under pressure to meet this demand, but its current patterns of production are not environmentally sustainable, causing negative health impacts on humans and raising welfare concerns for animals. With little regulation of the intensive livestock sector in most countries, animal products are available at cheaper prices on consumer markets, undercutting more sustainable production systems, such as those used by pastoralists and organic farmers. Other beneficial aspects of sustainable intensification and sustainable pastoralism should also be taken into account. However, it is unclear whether moving towards sustainable animal husbandry (both intensive and extensive) will meet the projected demand from nine billion people in 2030, unless attention is also paid to fairer and more responsible consumption. This paper proposes a conceptual framework to transform the livestock sector, using principles of sustainable consumption and production, environmental stewardship, inclusive prosperity, and healthy lifestyles. It also highlights several areas where additional research and modelling are required.

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