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|Optimizing ruminant production systems for sustainable intensification, human health, food security and environmental stewardship.
School of Agricultural Sciences
|Ruminants.;Environment.;Human health.;Food security.;Meat.;Climate change.
|Whereas the contribution of ruminants to human civilization remains unequivocal, there are concerns regarding the unintended negative consequences of rearing these animals for food. These concerns range from the ruminant’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions to negative impacts of its products on the health of consumers. Rearing ruminants for food is thus seen as the root cause of ills such as climate change, species extinction, deforestation, food insecurity, cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes. Indeed, critics of ruminant production envision a future where humanity does not have to rely on animal products for food. They are convinced that this would be the panacea to food and nutrition insecurity, environmental pollution and meat-induced nutritional disorders and diseases in humans. The critics seem to be unaware of the wide diversity of ruminant production systems in use as well as the array of benefits that can be derived from these enterprises. For instance, there are large human communities that inhabit climatically hostile areas, which have no food crop production potential. Food and nutrition needs of these communities are largely dependent on nourishment provided by products and income derived from ruminants and other herbivores. The aim of this review article is to interrogate the validity of the concerns around the use of ruminants for food and highlight appropriate strategies and technologies that may be applied to mitigate some of these challenges.We conclude that solutions already exist that have the potential to deliver efficient, environmentally friendly and consumer-conscious ruminant production systems based on high standards of animal welfare. Such sustainable production systems will ensure that ruminants continue to play a crucial role in food and nutrition security of humans as they have done for millennia.
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checked on Jun 8, 2021
checked on Jun 8, 2021
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