How much do you know about food production and climate change?

How much do you know about food production and climate change?

Section 1: Farmed Animals

‘From all the greenhouse gas emissions produced by man, 16 % of this is methane while around a third of that comes from ruminant livestock’

Prof. John Wallace, University of Aberdeen, UK


Farmed animals give off a lot of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (breathing) and methane, which is x20 as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide, by burping and flatulence. The majority of the methane comes from burping cows. The cows generate methane in their stomachs as bacteria digest the carbohydrates. The bacterial process inside a cow’s stomachs is called enteric fermentation.

Read more here from a 2015 EU report from the EU research and Innovation magazine.

Instructions: Read the question on the dropdown box. Decide if true or false. Click on the box to reveal your answer

Scientists are growing chicken meat in a science lab that is good enough to eat


Find out more here 

and here

Scientists are growing beef in a science lab that is good enough to eat

For a 3d printed steak made from real animals cells….look here

Scientists are growing venison in a science lab that is good enough to eat

Not that I know of at the time of writing this quiz but they probably will do!


Scientists have grown mouse meat in a science lab to make cat food


For more information click here

Scientists are growing tuna meat in a science lab that is good enough to eat


For more information click here


Scientists are growing whale meat in a science lab that is good enough to eat

Not yet but that would be  a great idea in order to stop whale hunts.


Scientists are growing prawn meat in a science lab that is good enough to eat


For more information click here


Kangaroos don't fart so swapping to kangaroo meat helps mitigate climate change

False. This was thought to be true in the 1970’s but it has now been proved that Kangas do fart, although less then cattle, so it would help to mitigate climate change a bit if you switched.


Scientists are trying to breed a cow that farts less by crossing it with a kangaroo.

False – as far as I know there is no Chimera jumping kanga cows. If there were you would get instant cream when you milked them!


Farming cows for Diary has the same carbon emissions as farming for beef

This doesn’t have a simple answer because the methane given off by a cow is dependant on so many different variables and therefore you can’t easily compare dairy versus beef.


Altering the bacteria in a cow's stomachs can lower their carbon emissions


NZ research has investigated giving cows a vaccine to stop certain gut microbes inside a cow’s stomach which are responsible for producing methane. Click here for more detail.


Altering a cow's diet can lower their carbon emissions


There is lots of research looking at this. Here is a rather interesting piece of research feeding seaweed to cows. 


Adding chalk to a cow's diet can lower their carbon emissions

Probably help with indigestion but no research so far on the effect of this inside a cow’s stomach with the production of methane. Chalk, marble and limestone rock (calcium carbonate) is a very common way that the natural processes lock up carbon dioxide on Earth.


Adding fertiliser to a cow's diet will lower their emissions


Adding calcium nitrate interferes with the gut microbes ability to make methane and reacting with the hydrogens in the process of fermentation in the stomach to reduce the availability of this element to make methane

Keeping cattle indoors all year round will cut down on emissions

Another statement that is controversial depending on the stakeholders and you will find opposing answers to this in the science community. An example of the problem in calculating such a figure would be if you take into account the clearing of virgin rainforest to make your cattle ranch versus a pre existing ranch. This is a particularly good article which is  Collaboration between University of Oxford, the  International Food Policy Research Institute  (IFPRI), the supermarket group Sainsbury’s and  The Nature Conservancy . 


A company has invented warmer ice cream to cut down on carbon emissions


I can just image the ice-cream cow. Pull a teat on the udder and get a large cone of soft whip warm ice cream!


Scientists have developed a mushroom that tastes exactly like beef in a blind taste test.


It is not something that has been genetically engineered. The closest meaty mushrooms are shiitake, and a red mushroom called beefsteak. There are many types of fungus based faux meats on the market.

I suspect if you asked a Michelin starred chef to have a blind tasting test they wouldn’t have a problem distinguishing the real steak from the mushroom.


Can lab grown meat be actually called meat?

True. It is genetically identical – it is real animal cells.

However, the US cattle ranchers association are petitioning the US department of agriculture to stop this. They want the US government to legislate that only meat from an animal grown for real can be called meat – lab grown meat would have to be called cultured meat, slaughter free meat, in vitro meat, cell based meat, lab grown meat, clean meat, synthetic meat, artificial meat…… all of which have not quite got that Michelin star restaurant appeal.

For more information click here


The meat grown in the lab is muscle cells.


But real meal also contains things such as fat which adds flavour, so scientists have to add in stuff to make the lab grown muscle cells have the texture and flavour of real meat. This explains why some of the first lab grown meat products were burgers and nuggets.


20 companies are now growing meat in a science lab to sell to the public


Last count it was over 70 and still rising. 


Click on the image to take you to an interesting article

If everybody in the EU became a ‘demitarian’ by halving the amount of meat and dairy they eat, it would reduce nitrogen and greenhouse gases from agriculture by between 25  – 40 %.

Statement from the EU funded ECLAIRE project 2015

Click on the image to find out how the Guernsey farmers and dairy reduce the emissions from the island's 1250 Dairy cows.
Click on the image to read the full report on tackling climate change through livestock. Author: Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations (2015)
The latest updated scientific information for farmers about how they can lower their emissions (2022). Click on the image to download the document.
If you are suffering from climate anxiety then don't click on this drop down box.

And finally the increased rate of destruction of the rainforests for logging, cattle ranches, palm oil, and soya beans means that if you are in your 20’s, what we call GenZ (generation X) the rainforest will be consigned to history books and photos for your grandchildren. As citizens of the UK, I really don’t know what we can do to stop this. It is probably a mute point though because long before the rainforests are completely gone, this planet will not be a green and pleasant land – it will be uninhabitable, full of climate refugees and probably climate, land and water wars. In fact barren Mars will probably be a more pleasant place to live even though you can’t breathe outside.

For the bitter cherry on top of the sour cream,  the Democratic republic of Congo are now auctioning off bits of their rainforest so that organisations can drill for oil, ripping into shreds the treaties that were signed at COP26 to protect the rainforests. 

The Congo basin is the only major rainforest that sucks in more carbon than it emits and experts have described it as the worst place in the world to explore for fossil fuels.

“Our priority is not to save the planet, ” stated the misguided leader of the DRC. 

The people of Congo are some of the poorest people in the world and the money from oil exploration will improve the economy is the illogic behind the sales.

I wonder what the government will do with all the money in the floods, the droughts, the hurricanes, the food shortages, the intense heat, the disease……… on an inhabitable planet. Maybe they think that they can build a paper house with it for shelter, eat it, drink it, and make a raft to escape the floods. Good luck with that then. 

And really finally – don’t give up hope.

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