Weekly Overview: World Meat Congress and the Poultry Industry in China

GLOBAL - A round-up of the highlights of the World Meat Congress, which was held in Beijing, China, earlier this week and the latest on avian flu outbreaks.
calendar icon 19 June 2014
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Livestock produce 7.1 giga-tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) per year, equivalent to 14.5 per cent of the total human-induced emissions, writes Chris Harris from the World Meat Congress, which is taking place in Beijing, China, this week.

However, a new programme from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the Global Livestock Environment Assessment Model (GLEAM) could help livestock producers reduce the global footprint of production, Neil Fraser, chair of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock told the Congress.

The major causes of GHG emissions from the sector are from land use for feed, which accounts for 33 per cent of the total. Among livestock production, the beef and dairy sectors produce the most GHG emissions, while the poultry and pig sectors produce the least - just nine per cent (0.7 giga-tonnes) of the livestock carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions.

Delegates at the World Meat Congress have also heard that animal welfare issues could become a new trade barrier following a landmark ruling by the World Trade Organization.

Speaking at the International Meat Secretariat Veal Committee meeting running up to the full congress at the week end, Jacques Servière, senior scientist at INRA and IMS Scientific Advisor said that there is a going public awareness of animal welfare issues in the production of meat.

"A large number of people are beginning to be interested in animal welfare," Dr Servière said, adding "Animal welfare should now be regarded as a new moral trade barrier."

China's increasingly important role on the international meat market was also discussed at the Congress as a result of rising consumption, prices and imports.

On news of avian flu, an outbreak of disease from the highly pathogenic H5N8 subtype has occurred in poultry in South Korea, while more than 200 commercial ostriches died as the result of the H7N7 "low-pathogenic" virus in South Africa in April. The Chinese authorities have reported the death of a patient from the H7N9 influenza virus in the last week.

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