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With the human population predicted to reach over 9 billion by 2050, demand for protein is set to grow considerably. The National Office of Animal Health (NOAH), which represents the UK animal medicines industry, held a one-day conference in London last month, to discuss the role of livestock medicines and animal science in helping to meet this demand. Arianwen Morris reports.
‘DISEASE risks will increase due to intensification, climate change and increasing transport,’ said Andy Peters, managing director of ARPEXAS, a consulting company providing support to the animal health industry and academia in new product development. Speaking at the NOAH conference, which was called ‘Feeding the world: the role of livestock medicines and animal science in meeting the demands of a growing population’, he pointed out that emerging diseases posed a significant challenge to animal and human health, and that livestock production efficiency was reduced by more than 20 per cent by disease. There was therefore a continuing need for effective medicines and vaccines, and the development of new and better products, to control the spread of disease and improve animal welfare, to protect human health in the case of zoonoses and to improve productivity with the aim of meeting increasing global demands for protein.
Professor Peters referred to a publication by the Food and Agriculture Organization from 2006, called ‘Livestock's Long Shadow’. This, he said, drew attention to some of the negative impacts of livestock production, but had nonetheless concluded that ‘livestock production, or productivity, must be improved’.
‘Livestock are a cause of greenhouse gas emissions, but in fact they're essential because, among other reasons, they utilise marginal land, they produce high-quality protein and they're an important source of livelihood for the world's poorest communities,’ he said. Increasing livestock production was vital in meeting the ‘fairly staggering statistic’ that …