IFA President John Bryan has welcomed the recognition by the UN Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the importance of addressing priority issues such as sustainable food production and food security when responding to the climate change challenge.
A representative of the FAO will present a lecture in Dublin this evening entitled Climate Change + Agriculture: ensuring food production is not threatened.
John Bryan said, “Food scarcity and the consequent price increases are causing political instability in many countries around the world. The fact is that 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty while at the same time global demand for food is set to escalate. This is creating a food poverty storm which cannot be ignored when addressing climate change.”
He said, “Countries such as Ireland are best placed to meet this demand because of our sustainable low-carbon model of food production, and adequate water and other critical resources. A serious concern raised by IFA in the recent climate change debate was the consequences of cutting food production in Ireland. The inevitable outcome would be an increase in international greenhouse gas emissions, because the production would shift to South America and take place on former Amazonian forested lands, where the carbon intensity per kilo of product is three to four times that of Ireland.”
“The UN FAO has a significant role to play in developing agriculture’s response to climate change. It is critical that the crude approach of presenting emissions based on the size of the national herd is replaced by a more effective measurement such as emissions per kilo of product. This will encourage farmers to use resources such as land and water efficiently and reduce their carbon food print. This refocus by farmers in Ireland has resulted in a 12.8% reduction in emissions from each litre of milk produced because farmers are achieving the same level of output but using fewer resources.”
Commenting on some policy measures proposed, Mr. Bryan said, “Reducing meat consumption in the developed world is not a solution to climate change as people in emerging economies aspire to the Western diet of meat, which is an important source of proteins, minerals and vitamins.”