Scientists have found out how high emissions from animal husbandry are


Livestock is responsible for twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as crops grown for consumption, according to a study published on Monday that reflects agricultural activity worldwide.


The foods people eat make up a significant portion of climate change-related emissions—transportation, deforestation, refrigeration. In addition, the digestive system of cattle emits polluting gases into the atmosphere.

The researchers studied carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide released during food production and consumption as a result of agriculture. And they found that from 2007 to 2013, emissions amounted to 17.318 billion metric tons of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases per year — or 35 percent of all anthropogenic emissions.

The study simulated net emissions of more than 170 plant-based products and 16 animal-based products in nearly 200 countries. The calculation showed that 57 percent of food-related emissions come from animal products, including crops grown for animal feed. We already wrote about this in the article: «Cows pollute the atmosphere more than cars.»


Plants grown for human consumption account for 29 percent of emissions, with the rest coming from other commodities such as cotton and rubber. At the same time, emissions from fisheries were not used in the calculations.

It is widely believed that plant-based diets are better for the planet in terms of reducing our carbon footprint. To develop a consistent model for so many different products, a team of scientists set to work from scratch, breaking down the world’s farmland into roughly 60,000 grid squares.

This allowed the researchers to model location-specific emission data for dozens of major crops and livestock products. They also included country-specific data on food consumption, including import and export-related emissions.

Beef was the most polluting commodity, accounting for about 25 percent of food emissions, while rice was the worst plant-damaging food at 12 percent. Thus, livestock production in South America and rice production in Southeast Asia are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production.

animal husbandry

The study measured the impact of crops grown for human consumption and crops grown for animal feed separately, taking into account items such as transportation and trade.