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A global foresight on food crop needs for livestock

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2012

T. Le Cotty*
CIRAD, UMR Cired, 73 rue Jean François Breton, 34398 Montpellier, France
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Increasingly more studies are raising concerns about the increasing consumption of meat and the increasing amount of crops (cereals and oilseeds in particular) used to feed animals and that could be used to feed people. The evolution of this amount is very sensitive to human diets and to the productivity of feed. This article provides a 2050 foresight on the necessary increase in crop production for food and feed in three contrasting scenarios: diets with no animal products; current diets in each main region of the world; and the average diet of developed countries extended to the whole world. We develop empirical aggregate production models for seven world regions, using 43 years and 150 countries. These models realistically account for the contribution of feed from food plants (i.e. plants that would be edible for humans) and of grassland to animal products. We find that the amount of edible crops necessary to feed livestock in 2050 is between 8% and 117% of today's need. The latter figure is lower than that in comparable foresight studies because our models take into account empirical features occurring at an aggregate level, such as the increasing share of animal production from regions using less crop product per unit of animal product. In particular, the expected increase in animal production is estimated to occur mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, where the amount of feed from food crops required per unit of animal product proves to be lower than that in other areas. This 117% increase indicates that crop production would have to double if the whole world adopted the present diet of developed countries.

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Copyright © The Animal Consortium 2012

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