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Feed your brain with healthy information

Feed your brain with healthy information

How Science Dispels 5 Contemporary Myths About Food Production

On World Food Day, a group of entities linked to the food chain poses a challenge to civil society: feed your brain with healthy information. By taking this call, we share scientific data to dispel some myths about the impact of food production on the environment. The production of food, something essential to life, cannot be the scapegoat of the environmental situation in which the planet finds itself, under penalty of causing an even greater problem than we currently have. If we continue along this path, in which there seems to be a denial attitude towards food production, very similar to what some niches have about Covid-19 vaccines, we will have an environmentally sick planet full of food insecurity.

Food education and credible information are needed so that consumers can make their choices, in a free and conscious way. In sec. XXI, to produce food we also work with science. This is the daily work of the FeedInov Collaborative Laboratory, an association made up of companies in the sector, universities and entities linked to research, innovation and development. To add a touch of science to a discussion that is so often full of mere opinions, we have brought together 5 recurrent myths about agricultural production and more specifically about the production of animal foods, as well as scientific information that undoes them.

Myth 1: Animal agriculture is responsible for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Fact 1: Based on 2019 data published by the national emissions inventory, in Portugal, agriculture as a whole is responsible for 10.8% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To the production of food of animal origin, we will be able to allocate 7% of the total GHG emissions.

Myth 2: Animal agriculture produces an amount of GHG equivalent to the sum of all means of transport: air, sea, automobile and road.

Fact 2: Based on the 2019 data published by the national emissions inventory, in Portugal, in the year 2019, the total GHG emission was divided into four major categories: energy – 69.9%; industrial processes and product use (IPPU) – 12.1%; Agriculture – 10.8% and waste – 7.2%. We can (and should) divide the energy sector into different emission sources, as follows: 28% of total emissions come from transport (air, sea, automobile, road and rail) which produce a total of around 22 thousand Kton CO2eq, while animal agriculture produces 4 thousand Kton, 7% of the total GHG emissions.

Myth 3: It takes 4kg of cereals and other vegetables to produce 500g of meat.

Fact 3: Ruminants, cows, for example, digest plants that humans are unable to digest – such as grass, by-products of the agricultural industry, forage (hay, straw, silage) among others – reducing what is considered waste and transforming – o in products with nutritional value for human beings: meat, milk and its derivatives. To produce 1kg of animal protein, an average of 6 kg of vegetable protein is needed (from 2 to 10 depending on animal species and production systems), however, about 86% of the protein used by ruminants is not suitable for human consumption.

Myth 4: Animal production and the production of animal feed occupy an area that could be used to produce food for humans.

Fact 4: The idea that animals compete with humans for food is recurrently used and, in fact, worldwide, animal production uses about 70% (2.5 billion ha) of agricultural land. However, half of this area is permanent pasture and marginal areas (mountain, swamp, among others), which are not and cannot be (because they do not have the characteristics to do so) cultivated for the production of cereals or protein crops, and are almost exclusively used by herbivorous animals (mostly ruminants). The animals that graze and feed in these areas directly contribute to the production of food with high nutritional value (meat, milk) from non-edible biomass. The other half of the agricultural area consists of around 0.7 billion ha of temporary pastures that can actually be cultivated. However, if this happens, there will be a change in land use and loss of services of high environmental value, such as the contribution to the maintenance of biodiversity and rural areas, which are guaranteed while they are being grazed. A very significant part of the area used to feed animal production are marginal areas or pastures that provide, in addition to food for animals, ecosystem services that, so far, have not been accounted for.

Myth 5: A diet containing animal products is harmful to human health.

Fact 5: Studies suggesting that a vegetarian diet is “better” than an omnivore are mostly based on a comparison with a bad American-style diet (known as the Standard American Diet – SAD) and do not consider the lifestyle or physical activity. In fact, the few times these factors are crossed, there is no relationship between the healthy consumption of animal products and an increased health risk.

In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that animal food is the only one (in addition to direct supplementation) that can provide vitamin B12 to humans and thus prevent anemia due to lack of iron, as other sources of iron have poor absorption. In this regard, it will make sense to mention that recent studies show malnutrition problems in “developed” countries. Currently in Australia, around 40% of adolescent girls between 14 and 18 years old show low levels of iron intake (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2021). Some of the reasons given for this situation include eating sporadically throughout the day and restrictive diets regarding the inclusion of meat. To mark World Food Day, the subscribing entities reiterate their commitment to societal challenges, namely, sustainability, combating climate change, animal welfare and the right to healthy food available to the entire population.

The subscribing entities:

FEEDINOV – Associação para a Investigação e Inovação em Nutrição e Alimentação Animal
IACA – Associação Portuguesa dos Industriais de Alimentos Compostos para Animais
ANEB – Associação Nacional dos Engordadores de Bovinos
ANIL – Associação Nacional dos Industriais de Lacticínios
ANIPLA – Associação Nacional da Indústria para a Proteção de Plantas
APEZ – Associação Portuguesa dos Engenheiros Zootécnicos
APIC – Associação Portuguesa dos Industriais de Carne
APIFVET – Associação Portuguesa da Indústria Farmacêutica de Medicamentos Veterinários
CAP – Confederação dos Agricultores de Portugal
FENAPECUÁRIA – Federação Nacional das Cooperativas de Produtores PecuáriosFEPASA – Federação Portuguesa das Associações Avícolas
FILPORC – Organização Interprofissional da Fileira da Carne de Porco
FIPA – Federação das Indústrias Portuguesas Agro-Alimentares
FPAS – Federação Portuguesa das Associações de Suinicultores

Download the study from the following link:



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Este website utiliza cookies que facilita a navegação, o registo e recolha de dados estatísticos. Ao prosseguir a navegação com cookies ativos está a consentir a sua utilização. A informação armazenada nos cookies é utilizada exclusivamente pelo Grupo Finançor.