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Beefs about meat.

World Watch's July/August cover story ("Meat: Now, It's Not Personal!") prompted a flurry of e-mails and letters from the NGO community. In addition to some praiseful remarks from animal welfare organizations, we also received some surprisingly critical comments from groups working on agricultural issues. In general, they argued that World-watch missed the boat by not pointing out the role of small livestock farmers in sustainable agriculture (see the following letter from Mark Muller, one of the more thoughtful responses to the article, which makes a number of points we mostly agree with).

The article's focus, which apparently we did not make explicit enough, was mainly the industrial system of meat production. A quick look at our publications list makes it clear that Worldwatch has been addressing the issue of sustainable agriculture in general, and sustainable meat production in particular, for a long time. In 1991, Worldwatch researchers Alan Durning and Holly Brough published Taking Stock: Animal Farming and the Environment. In addition to detailing the environmental effects of meat production--from the inefficient use of cropland to grow feed for animals to the destruction of tropical forests for grazing land--Durning and Brough also examined the importance of livestock for sustaining livelihoods and food security, particularly in developing countries.

Since then Worldwatch has expanded the discussion about meat, explaining the complexities of the exploding human appetite for animal products. Our work has included articles in World Watch magazine about the effects of antibiotic misuse in industrial agriculture, and a cover story about the effects of rising meat consumption in the developing world ("Factory Farming in the Developing World," World Watch May/June 2003). We devoted an entire chapter in State of the World ("Watching What We Eat," State of the World 2004) to sustainable food choices, including how consumers can vote with their forks by supporting farmers who raise sustainable, humane animal products. World-watch has helped promote sustainable farming methods by telling the stories of farmers such as Bobby Inocencio, a Filipino who raises free range chickens and teaches other farmers his methods, and Iowa pig farmer Paul Willis, who distributes humanely raised pork products for Niman Ranch. These examples are proof that the meat we eat can be raised in ways that benefit the environment, farmers, and animals alike.
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Title Annotation:From Readers
Author:Nierenberg, Danielle
Publication:World Watch
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Sep 1, 2004
Previous Article:All the world's a stage--but who's watching?
Next Article:A disservice to environmentally appropriate livestock producers.

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