6 pressing questions about beef and climate change, answered

Cattle feed at a shed belonging to Kim Jin-cheon, 56, a farmer raising about 120 domestic cows, in Gapyeong, about 60 km (37 miles) east of Seoul, April 23, 2008. South Korea's decision to gradually open up to U.S. beef imports are set to hit local farmers hard, with some experts expecting around 14 percent fall this year in prices of home-grown cattle from a year earlier.  REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak (SOUTH KOREA) - GM1E44N0XWA01

How friendly is your food?
Image: REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak
This article is published in collaboration withEcoWatch

Beef and climate change are in the news these days, from cows’ alleged high-methane farts (fact check: they’re actually mostly high-methane burps) to comparisons with cars and airplanes (fact check: the world needs to reduce emissions from fossil fuels and agriculture to sufficiently rein in global warming). And as with so many things in the public sphere lately, it’s easy for the conversation to get polarized. Animal-based foods are nutritious and especially important to livelihoods and diets in developing countries, but they are also inefficient resource users. Beef production is becoming more efficient, but forests are still being cut down for new pasture. People say they want to eat more plants, but meat consumption is still rising.

All of the above statements are true even if they seem contradictory. That’s what makes the beef and sustainability discussion so complicated — and so contentious.

Here we look at the latest research (including from our recent World Resources Report) to address six common questions about beef and climate change:

1. How does beef production cause greenhouse gas emissions?

The short answer: Through the agricultural production process and through land-use change.

The longer explanation: Cows and other ruminant animals (like goats and sheep) emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as they digest grasses and plants. This process is called “enteric fermentation,” and it’s the origin of cows’ burps. Methane is also emitted from manure, and nitrous oxide, another powerful greenhouse gas, is emitted from ruminant wastes on pastures and chemical fertilizers used on crops produced for cattle feed.

More indirectly but also importantly, rising beef production requires increasing quantities of land. New pastureland is often created by cutting down trees, which releases carbon dioxide stored in forests.

2013 study by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that total annual emissions from animal agriculture (production emissions plus land-use change) were about 14.5 percent of all human emissions, of which beef contributed 41 percent. That means emissions from beef production are roughly on par with those of India. Because FAO only modestly accounted for land-use-change emissions, this is a conservative estimate.

Beef-related emissions are also projected to grow. Building from an FAO projection, we estimated that global demand for beef and other ruminant meats could grow by 88 percent between 2010 and 2050, putting enormous pressure on forests, biodiversity and the climate. Even after accounting for continued improvements in beef production efficiency, pastureland could still expand by roughly 400 million hectares, an area of land larger than the size of India, to meet growing demand. The resulting deforestation could increase global emissions enough to put the global goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5-2 degrees C (2.7-3.6 degrees F) out of reach.

2. Is beef more resource-intensive than other foods?

The short answer: Yes.

The longer explanation: Ruminant animals have lower growth and reproduction rates than pigs and poultry, so they require a higher amount of feed per unit of meat produced. Animal feed requires land to grow, which has a carbon cost associated with it, as we discuss below. All told, beef is more resource-intensive to produce than most other kinds of meat, and animal-based foods overall are more resource-intensive than plant-based foods. Beef requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more GHG emissions per gram of edible protein than common plant proteins, such as beans. And while the majority of the world’s grasslands cannot grow crops or trees, such “native grasslands” are already heavily used for livestock production, meaning additional beef demand will likely increase pressure on forests.

3. Why are some people saying beef production is only a small contributor to emissions?

The short answer: Such estimates commonly leave out land-use impacts, such as cutting down forests to establish new pastureland.

The longer explanation: There are a lot of statistics out there that account for emissions from beef production but not from associated land-use change. For example, here are three common U.S. estimates we hear:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyestimatedtotal U.S. agricultural emissions in 2017 at only 8 percent of total U.S. emissions;
  • 2019 studyin Agricultural Systems estimated emissions from beef production at only 3 percent of total U.S. emissions; and
  • 2017 studypublished in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that removing all animals from U.S. agriculture would reduce U.S. emissions by only 3 percent.

While all of these estimates account for emissions from U.S. agricultural production, they leave out a crucial element: emissions associated with devoting land to agriculture. An acre of land devoted to food production is often an acre that could store far more carbon if allowed to grow forest or its native vegetation. And when considering the emissions associated with domestic beef production, you can’t just look within national borders, especially since global beef demand is on the rise. Because food is a global commodity, what is consumed in one country can drive land use impacts and emissions in another. An increase in U.S. beef consumption, for example, can result in deforestation to make way for pastureland in Latin America. Conversely, a decrease in U.S. beef consumption can avoid deforestation (and land-use-change emissions) abroad.

When these land-use effects of beef production are accounted for, we found that the GHG impacts associated with the average American-style diet actually come close to per capita U.S. energy-related emissions. A related analysis found that the average European’s diet-related emissions, when accounting for land-use impacts, are similar to the per capita emissions typically assigned to each European’s consumption of all goods and services, including energy.

4. Can beef be produced more sustainably?

The short answer: Yes, although beef will always be resource-intensive to produce.

The longer explanation: The emissions intensity of beef production varies widely across the world, and improvements in the efficiency of livestock production can greatly reduce land use and emissions per pound of meat. Improving feed quality and veterinary care, raising improved animal breeds that convert feed into meat and milk more efficiently, and using improved management practices like rotational grazing can boost productivity and soil health while reducing emissions. Boosting productivity, in turn, can take pressure off tropical forests by reducing the need for more pastureland.

Examples of such improved practices abound. For example, some beef production in Colombiaintegrates trees and grasses onto pasturelands, helping the land produce a higher quantity and quality of feed. This can enable farmers to quadruple the number of cows per acre while greatly reducing methane emissions per pound of meat, as the cows grow more quickly. A study of dairy farms in Kenyafound that supplementing typical cattle diets with high-quality feeds like napier grass and high-protein Calliandra shrubs — which can lead to faster cattle growth and greater milk production — could reduce methane emissions per liter of milk by 8–60 percent.

There are also emerging technologies that can further reduce cows’ burping, such as through feed additives like 3-nitrooxypropan (3-NOP). Improving manure management and using technologies that prevent nitrogen in animal waste from turning into nitrous oxide can also reduce agricultural emissions.

5. Do we all need to stop eating beef in order to curb climate change?

The short answer: No.

The longer explanation: Reining in climate change won’t require everyone to become vegetarian or vegan, or even to stop eating beef. If ruminant meat consumption in high-consuming countries declined to about 50 calories a day or 1.5 burgers per person per week — about half of current U.S. levels and 25 percent below current European levels, but still well above the national average for most countries — it would nearly eliminate the need for additional agricultural expansion (and associated deforestation), even in a world with 10 billion people.

Diets are already shifting away from beef in some places. Per capita beef consumption has already fallen by one-third in the United States since the 1970s. Plant-based burgers and blended meat-plant alternatives are increasingly competing with conventional meat products on important attributes like taste, price and convenience. The market for plant-based alternatives is growing at a high rate, albeit from a low baseline.

There are also other compelling reasons for people to shift toward plant-based foods. Some studieshave shown that red meat consumption is associated with increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and colorectal cancer, and that diets higher in healthy plant-based foods (such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes) are associated with lower risks. In high-income regions like North America and Europe, people also consume more protein than they need to meet their dietary requirements.

6. Would eating less beef be bad for jobs in the food and agriculture sector?

The short answer: Not necessarily.

The longer explanation: Given projected future growth in meat demand across the developing world, even if people in higher-income countries eat less beef, the global market for beef will likely continue to grow in the coming decades. The scenario in the chart above leads to a 32 percent growth in global ruminant meat consumption between 2010 and 2050, versus 88 percent growth under business-as-usual. In the U.S., despite declining per capita beef consumption, total beef production has held steadysince the 1970s. Burgeoning demand in emerging markets like China will lead to more export opportunities in leading beef-producing countries, although building such markets takes time.

In addition, major meat companies — including Tyson Foods, Cargill, Maple Leaf Foods and Perdue — are starting to invest in the fast-growing alternative protein market. They’re positioning themselves more broadly as “protein companies,” even as they work to reduce emissions from beef production in their supply chains through improved production practices.

Moving Toward a Sustainable Food Future

Beef is more resource-intensive than most other foods and has a substantial impact on the climate. A sustainable food future will require a range of strategies from farm to plate. Food producers and consumers alike have a role to play in reducing beef’s emissions as the global population continues to grow. And as we all work on strategies to curb climate change — whether in the agriculture sector, the energy sector or beyond — it’s important we rely on the best available information to make decisions.

WDFW gives update on latest wolf numbers, including new pack in Western Washington, but not all are thrilled by count


Sat., April 6, 2019, 5 a.m.

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The male member of the new Diobsud Creek pack in Skagit County. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife / Courtesy)

Washington’s wolf population continued to grow in 2018, with a pack documented west of the Cascade crest for the first time.

A minimum of 126 wolves, 27 packs and 15 breeding pairs were counted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife during their annual winter survey.

The population increased 3 percent from last year, a lower growth rate than previous years. But as wolves fill the habitat in northeast Washington, Ben Maletzke, WDFW statewide wolf specialist, said that overall population growth will slow.

“The number of wolves isn’t going to significantly change in that area (northeast) probably for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The next big jump in wolf numbers will come when more packs establish themselves in the western portion of the state.

Agency staff presented the wolf report to the WDFW Commission, a governor-appointed supervisory body, Friday in Olympia.

The big news was the pack west of the Cascades.

A single male, originally captured in Skagit County in 2016, traveled with a female wolf through the winter in the North Cascades meeting the state’s criteria for the formation of a pack. Biologists named the pack the Diobsud Pack.

Biologist also confirmed the presence of wolves in the south Cascades, although no pack activity has been documented yet.

In 2017, there were a minimum of 122 wolves, 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs documented statewide.

Wolf numbers grew despite the fact that in 2018 six wolves were killed legally by tribal hunters, four were killed by WDFW in response to livestock attacks and two apparent human-caused deaths remain under investigation.

Meanwhile, wolves killed at least 11 cattle and one sheep, and injured an additional 19 cattle and two sheep.

Overall, only five of the 27 known packs were involved in livestock depredations, Maletzke said.

“Eighty-one percent of them are doing good things,” he told the commission.

In an emailed statement, Conservation Northwest called the discovery of a pack west of the Cascades a “milestone” and “indication of the continued recovery of wolves in our state.”

Not everyone was thrilled, though, and some questioned the department’s methodology.

Jake Nelson, a rancher on the Lone Ranch grazing allotment in Ferry County, lost two calves and one cow to wolf attacks last year. He received monetary compensation from the state. He questioned the overall number of wolves and WDFW’s reported number of wolf attacks on livestock.

“I would have to argue with those numbers,” he said.

He knows ranchers who believe they lost 10 or more cattle to wolves in 2018.

Jay Shepherd, a founder of the Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative, agreed that the overall number of wolf depredations seemed low. The WDFW report only lists confirmed depredations, not probable ones.

“It could well be there were 11 confirmed,” he said. “That still seems low. But confirmed and probables combined were through the roof.”

It will only be worse in 2019, Nelson said.

“We have more wolves. We have more confirmed packs now. We have a whole bunch of packs that are habituated cattle killers,” he said. “I look for it to be a lot worse than last year.”

A number of wolf-related bills were brought forward during this year’s legislative session hoping to reduce conflicts in 2019.

A proposal that passed the house and is currently in the Senate would directWDFW to develop different management plans for wolves in different regions of the state, with more support to control wolves in the part of the state where they are rapidly multiplying.

The bill would also direct the state to spend nearly $1 million over the next two years on nonlethal ways to keep wolves from killing livestock in northeast Washington, where the majority of the state’s wolves live.

The numbers reported by WDFW are a minimum count. In 2018, researchers at the University of Washington, using scat-sniffing dogs, said the number of wolves in the state could be closer to 200.

During the commission meeting, staff said the methods used by UW and WDFW are “apples and oranges.”

“There are more wolves out there,” Donny Martorello, the department’s top wolf specialist, told the commission. “We know this is the minimum.”

Wolves are protected by state endangered species rules in the eastern third of the state, while they remain federally protected in the western two-thirds of the state.

According to the state’s wolf recovery plan, wolves can be delisted after 15 successful breeding pairs are documented for three consecutive years, or after officials document 18 breeding pairs in one year.

Under either scenario, the pairs have to be distributed evenly throughout the state’s three wolf management areas.

Meanwhile, two environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against WDFW alleging, among other things, that the agency is not using the latest science to make wolf management decisions and is in violation of the state’s environmental policy act.

Chris Bachman, the wildlife program director at the Spokane-based Lands Council, celebrated the news and said it was an indicator that wolf populations were reaching a healthy level. However, he didn’t go as far as saying that northeast Washington had reached capacity.

He said lethal removal of wolves that have attacked cattle remains an issue. He believes how the National Forest and ranchers interact need to change. Right now, he said, cows are being put into a forest with limited forage, which forces them to disperse and makes them an easier target.

“We need to be changing what we’re doing on the ground with livestock in the forest,” Bachman said after attending Friday’s meeting. “We can ride WDFW all we want about having to go in and lethally remove wolves, but Forest Service policy has to be adjusted.”

Arla Foods aims for 30% cut in emissions from milk as part of net-zero vision

Plans to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% per kilo of milk in the next decade have been developed by Arla Foods as part of its sustainability strategy.

Arla has a wide ranging plan to reduce its global emissions impact from dairy farming

Arla has a wide ranging plan to reduce its global emissions impact from dairy farming

The ambitious target accelerates the firm’s transition to sustainable dairy production and is part of its overall aim to be carbon net zero by 2050, with strategies to address climate, air, water and nature.

Issues around the impact of dairy farming on the climate have consistently been one of the big topics for addressing climate change globally. A cow can produce around 70 to 120kg of methane each year – the equivalent of 2,300kg of CO2 – with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) stating the overall agriculture sector is responsible for 18% of global emissions.

Arla Foods aims to mitigate the issue of emissions from a dairy value chain comes by reducing a cow’s methane emissions through a series of techniques, such as optimised feed composition. Additionally, the food firm is working with its farmers to quantify and increase the carbon captured and stored in the soil.

According to a recent analysis from the FAO, global milk production has become more sustainable with a global average of 2.5kg CO2 per kilo of milk, but Arla farmers aim, on average, for 1.15kg CO2 per kilo or half of the global level.

The company has conducted 5,000 climate assessments on its 10,300 farms since 2013, and now is accelerating the work through the use of a digital documentation system where farmers can input data about their herd, milking system, feed, grazing, land use, and animal welfare. It claims to be one of the largest dairy farm benchmarking datasets in Europe.

Dairy farmer and chairman of Arla Foods, Jan Toft Nørgaard, said: “The climate assessment is highly motivating because it identifies your farms’ potential for CO2 reductions, which will often lead to cost savings.

“A next step is to include parameters that will indicate the farm’s impact on climate and environment. This will give us an opportunity to see in which areas we have the biggest potential, to identify best practice farms that we can learn from across our cooperative.”

Farming initiatives

The news follows a number of initiatives by farmers and agriculture firms to mitigate the impact on the environment of their businesses.

In 2016, Wyke Farm, the UK’s largest independent cheese producer and milk processor, became the first British dairy farm to hold a Carbon Trust Standard triple certification for improving environmental performance across carbon emissions, water use and waste. It followed work that the business had done since 2013 to become the first national cheddar brand to use 100% green energy.

Additionally, last August, Northern Ireland-based dairy manufacturer Dale Farm announced it was now running one of its cheese manufacturing plants with 100% renewable energy after bringing a self-consumption solar farm online.

James Evison

Could lab-grown meat actually make climate change worse?


Meat grown in a lab may become more detrimental to the planet than some types of cattle farming, a new study suggests. Published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, the findings show that this form of food production could generate large quantities of carbon dioxide that will go on to shape climate change hundreds of years into the future.

But, the research also comes with some major caveats–chiefly, that it overlooks the potential for this emerging new industry to switch to green energy.

We’re currently making big technological leaps in culturing meat from animal cells, which is increasingly touted as a better alternative to other forms of meat production, like cattle farming. Growing meat in a lab side-steps the environmental and ethical impacts of raising beef in pastures, and killing these animals for food; producing meat this way is especially celebrated for generating much less of the methane and nitrous oxide that cows are famous for emitting, both of which are particularly powerful greenhouse gases.

Yet, making cultured meat does still require large amounts of energy to power production and maintain growth temperature for cells–and that results in carbon dioxide emissions, the Oxford University researchers point out in their study. CO2 also comes with its own unique set of challenges: methane may be more potent but it lasts in the atmosphere for only 12 years, whereas CO2 lingers for thousands, meaning it accumulates and worsens climate change in the long-run.

So, to truly compare the impact of farmed cattle and lab-grown meat, the researchers separately considered the amount of methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide arising from each types of food production. That’s a departure from previous emissions estimates, which have typically relied on ‘carbon dioxide equivalents’, a standard way of measuring emissions impact that equates the likes of methane with carbon dioxide–without taking their very different climate effects into account.

Using this more nuanced measure, the researchers were able to closely compare the climate impact of three beef production systems, and four possible methods of culturing meat, and to project their impacts 1000 years into the future. This was also modeled according to different possible consumption pathways–including a global decline in meat consumption to more sustainable levels.

This revealed that if both types of meat production were ramped up in the future to satisfy a continually growing global demand, initially the more potent effects of methane from live cattle would increase global warming. But over time these effects diminish, as methane dissipates in the atmosphere. Conversely, greater amounts of CO2 generated by labriculture would then start to accumulate, and ultimately intensify warming in millennia to come, because of the gas’s incredible longevity. Overall, labriculture is “increasingly outperformed by all of the cattle systems the longer that production is maintained,” the researchers write.

Even if humans started to reign in their appetite for meat over the 1000-year period, they found that the CO2 from cultured meat production would continue to accumulate and persist, still exceeding the warming impact of some types of beef production. However, this comes with a critical caveat. Expanding pasture land for cows–which often means deforestation–is itself a huge source of CO2 emissions in cattle farming, but the researchers say they weren’t able to include this factor in their analysis. That would likely skew the results.

Similarly, producing large amounts of meat in the confines of a lab would reduce the conversion of forested land into pasture for farming cattle–in turn keeping more CO2 trapped in the ground. This is a benefit of lab-grown meat that wasn’t thoroughly explored in the study.

The paper makes another potentially problematic assumption, which is that labriculture will always rely on fossil fuels to power its operations. However, renewable energy could potentially provide some of that energy in the future–especially likely in an industry that’s trying to be green. If that happened, it would completely change the high emissions profile of lab-grown meat that’s presented in this study.

Nevertheless, what the research does prove is that when estimating the climate impact of food, relying on CO2 equivalents alone could be misleading. Methane doesn’t have the same long-term climate impact as some studies suggest, and this way of thinking about emissions may actually minimise CO2’s cumulative role in altering our climate.

The study also underscores the valuable fact that renewable energy streams will be essential to producing lab-grown burgers and the like, if they’re to have a place in our sustainable food future.

Lynch et. al. “Climate Impacts of Cultured Meat and Beef Cattle.” Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. 2019.

Got beef? No assumptions on carbon emissions should be made before production maturity, warns lab meat innovator

Got beef? No assumptions on carbon emissions should be made before production maturity, warns lab meat innovator

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21 Feb 2019 — A widely-publicized comparison of the greenhouse gases (GHG) produced by lab-grown and farm-raised beef suggests that the benefits of reducing methane, resulting from cattle, could in the long term be outweighed by increased CO2 levels. As a result, the involved Oxford University researchers have put forward that sustainable “labriculture” will depend on a large-scale transition to a decarbonized energy system and new tech. This study may at first sight come as a disappointment to proponents of lab-grown meat. But considering that the technology is still in its infancy, and that the world would benefit from more clean energy in general, could this be a moot point?

Mark Post, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Physiology at Maastricht University, a key figure in the development of lab-grown meat, warns that no assumptions about “any novel technology should be made before it reaches mature production,” and that also goes for the idea that culturing meat will lead to less GHG emission.

Still some years from large-scale commercialization, the lab-grown meat scene is progressing rapidly, both in terms of R&D and regulatory clarity. “Labriculture” – meat grown in the lab using cell culture techniques – has captured the industry and consumers’ attention for its promise of authentic tasting meat, without the need to raise, and ultimately slaughter, livestock.

Although not an inherent promise of lab-grown meat, environmental concerns have also been put forward as a reason for consumers to perhaps choose this type of meat instead of traditionally farm-reared sources, with agricultural greenhouse gas emissions currently responsible for around a quarter of current global warming.

Mark Post, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Physiology at Maastricht University and Co-Founder of Mosa MeatThe researchers found that although some projections for the uptake of particular forms of cultured meat could indeed be better for the climate, others could actually lead to higher global temperatures in the long run. Currently proposed types of lab-grown meat, they say, cannot provide a “cure-all” for the detrimental climate impacts of meat production.

Considering culture
Current estimates of the environmental benefits of lab-grown meat over farm-reared meat are based on carbon-dioxide equivalent footprints, the researchers note. This can be “misleading” because not all greenhouse gases generate the same amount of warming or have the same lifespan.

“Cattle are very emissions-intensive because they produce a large amount of methane from fermentation in their gut,” says study co-author Raymond Pierrehumbert, Halley Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford.

“Methane is an important greenhouse gas, but the way in which we generally describe methane emissions as ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ amounts can be misleading because the two gases are very different. Per ton emitted, methane has a much larger warming impact than carbon dioxide, however, it only remains in the atmosphere for about 12 years whereas carbon dioxide persists and accumulates for millennia.”

Methane’s impact on long-term warming is, therefore, not cumulative and is impacted greatly if emissions increase or decrease over time, the researchers warn.

Sustainable labriculture depends on clean energy and new tech
To compare the potential climate impacts of lab-grown meat and beef cattle, the researchers examined available data on the emissions associated with three current cattle farming methods and four possible meat culture methods, assuming current energy systems remained unchanged.

The researchers modeled the potential temperature impact of each production method over the next 1,000 years. And while cattle was found to initially have a greater warming effect through the release of methane, the model showed that in some cases the manufacture of lab-grown meat may ultimately result in more warming.

This is because even if consumption of meat were entirely phased out, the warming from carbon dioxide would persist, whereas warming caused by methane would cease after a few decades.

“This is important because while reducing methane emissions would be good – and an important part of our climate policies – if we simply replace that methane with carbon dioxide it could actually have detrimental long-term consequences,” warns lead author Dr. John Lynch, part of Oxford Martin’s LEAP (Livestock, Environment and People) program.

The study also highlights that both cultured meat and cattle farming have complex inputs and impacts that need to be considered to fully appreciate their effect on the environment.

“The climate impacts of cultured meat production will depend on what level of sustainable energy generation can be achieved, as well as the efficiency of future culture processes,” Lynch concludes.

Future food security
Although widely reported as a potential thorn in lab-grown meat’s proverbial side, the study and the involved researchers are by no means dismissive of the potential of lab-grown meat to be beneficial in environmental terms. They do, however, emphasize the need for continued and expanded labriculture research and especially the development of ways to produce cultured meat as efficiently as possible.

Post, for his part, notes that there are “good reasons to assume three environmental advantages.”

The first is that lab-grown meat could lead to “less GHG through either less energy use (heavily depending on assumptions what the outcome is) or emission poor energy consumption.” Secondly, lab-grown meat would entail less water usage, and thirdly, less feedstock resources and so less land, important for future food security.

“These benefits are interrelated, which makes the modeling very complex. Less land use will, depending on alternative usage of the land, reduce CO2 emission and increase CO2 capture. Less water usage will reduce the need for energy consuming desalination strategies,” Post continues.

“The entire paper is not realistic about what clean meat production will entail at scale. For example, the study assumes current and worst-case energy production for clean meat, but since clean meat uses about 1 percent of the land required by livestock, that is not realistic.”

“Clean meat production will use a tiny fraction of the land required for livestock and that freed up land could be used for clean energy production and carbon sequestration. By freeing up so much land, clean meat production should be a significant net positive for climate change,” he asserts.

Consumer acceptance key
Modeling specifics aside, addressing the environmental constraints to lab-grown meat could prove vital to successfully finding consumer acceptance.

“My expectation is that adverse environmental effects will easily outweigh other potential societal and personal benefits among consumers. The target group for cultured meat will not be willing to compromise with respect to sustainability,” says Wim Verbeke, Professor of Agro-food Marketing and Consumer Behaviour at Ghent University.

“Proven environmental benefits of cultured meat compared to conventional meat production are crucial because this constitutes a key promise and expectation in terms of societal benefits, and it is the issue that spontaneously raises doubt among consumers,” he explains.

“When comparing farm-reared meat and the concept lab-grown options, consumers perceive hardly any personal benefits (e.g. taste, nutrition, health), which is logical because of lack of personal experience with the product,” he notes.

“Therefore, societal benefits are crucial for future acceptance. These relate to ethical animal welfare benefits, global food security and a reduced environmental impact. There seems to be little uncertainty among consumers about the first two, but there are doubts among consumers about the latter,” Verbeke adds.

To this end, he puts forward that technological developments related to energy use and emission in the upscaling and industrial production, convincing life cycle analyses studies and scientific consensus about the environmental impacts of alternative meat production systems will be vital to convincing consumers.

Room for growth
Since we are still a few years away in scaling up lab-grown meat to offer to the mainstream consumer, there is arguably time for the “labricultural” industry to invest in the technologies

“Culturing meat is a controlled system that has ample opportunities for further economization, both financial as resource-related,” Post notes. “As biotechnology and clean energy advance, cultured meat production will become more and more efficient, and thus help to address all of these pressing problems. Conversely, the efficiency gain in conventional meat production has been incremental and is biologically limited, especially in ruminants.”

The higher versatility, he states, of cultured meat production over conventional meat can be translated for instance into co-locating cultured meat production facilities with carbon-neutral energy sources.

“This is already being done by plant-based meat companies. For example, Turtle Island, the makers of Tofurky, has their production facility in the Columbia River valley, so all their power is renewable hydroelectricity. Companies such as Black and Veitch who have decades of experience building large-scale sustainable manufacturing plants are already involved doing forward-looking work with cultured meat companies, even before production has started to scale up.

“It is extremely important to look at individual variables like global warming, but one should also keep an eye on other benefits of cultured meat production over conventional meat production,” he emphasizes.

Such benefits include elimination of antibiotics use for food production, elimination of zoonoses by reducing intensity of livestock farming, and last but not least, the moral issues associated with livestock farming that will be under increasing scrutiny by consumers.

“Early LCAs such as this study are on the one hand very useful in emphasizing the areas where the technology has to develop, but they are also tenuous in the absence of an established industrial practice. This is obviously true for LCAs that are favorable for cultured meat as the ones that are more critical,” Post concludes.

By Lucy Gunn

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

Wolf shot, killed near Sprague Lake about 40 miles from Spokane


UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 8, 2019, 10:50 p.m.

This February 2017  photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a gray wolf of the Wenaha Pack captured on a remote camera on U.S. Forest Service land in Oregon's northern Wallowa County. In an area where no documented wolf packs roam, a rancher shot a wolf, Monday. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)
This February 2017 photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a gray wolf of the Wenaha Pack captured on a remote camera on U.S. Forest Service land in Oregon’s northern Wallowa County. In an area where no documented wolf packs roam, a rancher shot a wolf, Monday. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

A ranch employee shot and killed a wolf chasing cattle near Sprague Lake on Monday, about 40 miles southwest of Spokane where there are no documented packs.

He was checking on cattle in northeastern Adams County near the end of Sprague Lake, when he saw cattle running from three wolves.

When he yelled at the wolves, two stopped and retreated. The third, an adult female, continued the chase, said Donny Martorello, the wolf policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The employee then shot and killed the wolf. One of the owners of the ranch, who wished to remain anonymous due to safety concerns, said the ranch hasn’t had problems with wolves in the past.

“The wolves are going to have to learn to live with us,” the rancher said. “We’re going to do our best to get along with everything, but we run a ranch. We have thousands of heads of cattle.”

The shooting has been deemed lawful by a preliminary investigation, according to Martorello. Although the Washington wolf plan does not allow private citizens to kill wolves, a subsequent WDFW commission rule allows for the killing of wolves caught in the act of attacking cattle, Martorello said.

“In areas of Washington where wolves are not listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, WAC 220-440-080 states the owner of domestic animals (or an immediate family member, agent, or employee) may kill one gray wolf without a permit issued by the WDFW director if the wolf is attacking their domestic animals,” according to a WDFW news release.

The caught-in-the-act rule has been used twice before, once in summer 2017 on the Smackout Pack and once in November 2017 on the Togo Pack, Martorello said.

The Center for Biological Diversity claims the killing is illegal and unnecessary.

“The shooting of this wolf is outrageous and saddening, and part of a troubling pattern of wolf-killing in Washington,” Amaroq Weiss, the center’s West Coast wolf advocate, said in an emailed statement. “A shot fired over the wolf’s head could have instead scared it away.”

The state’s 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management plan defines attacking “as biting, wounding, or killing; not just chasing or pursuing.”

Martorello said the WAC supersedes the wolf plan. The WAC does not define what attacking means.

“Washington state law allows people to shoot wolves that are caught in the act of attacking livestock or pets,” Chase Gunnell, communications director of Conservation Northwest, said in an email. “As difficult as situations like this are, we support this policy as a reasonable component of responsible wolf conservation and management.”

Martorello said the ranchers check on their cows daily. The cows in question were in an 800-acre pasture and the ranch runs a controlled calving operation.

The state wolf plan guidelines define a wolf pack as two or more animals traveling together in the winter, Martorello said. Agency officials will be following up to see if they can document additional tracks or sightings (either in person or by camera).

“It’s very suggestive of a formation of a pack,” he said.

In 2014, a wolf killed sheep near Lamont, south of Sprague.

Chris Bachman, wildlife program director at the Spokane-based Lands Council, said the Sprague area is not great wolf habitat.

“It would seem that it’s just sort of a fluke pass-through,” he said. “It’s really hard for me to imagine that area would become a territory that a pack would stay in.”

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is close and boasts both great habitat and a great prey source.

However, for the past two years there have been five cameras set up throughout the refuge to document elk, said Mike Rule, Turnbull’s wildlife biologist. No wolves have been spotted.

“You would just think that if there was one or two or three running around on a regular basis, someone would have seen one,” he said. “It could be in the near future we may end up seeing something here. As of now, nothing.”

If a pack is confirmed, Bachman said the Lands Council and others groups would hope to work with ranchers to put in place nonlethal deterrents such as fladry and fox lights.

According to the latest WDFW estimate, there are a minimum of 122 wolves, 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs statewide. That estimate was reported nearly a year ago.

That number is likely much higher. University of Washington researchers, using scat-sniffing dogs, said the number of wolves in the state could be closer to 200.

That minimum number has been criticized by wolf activists and ranchers alike. In the winter, WDFW staff fly in airplanes counting wolves to come to the minimum count.

“What we do know is tried and trued methodology that we’ve adopted from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and from other Western states,” Martorello said.

But as the number of wolves grows, the agency may consider a different methodology.

“As the numbers increase, it’s more challenging to count every wolf,” he said.

For several years, Hank Seipp has independently tried to confirm the existence of wolves in the West Plains area. In 2016 and 2017, he caught wolves on trail cameras on Mount Spokane. He’s placed numerous trail cameras throughout the Cheney and Sprague areas but hasn’t seen a wolf, although he has found paw prints and scat he believes came from wolves.

He said ranchers in the area need to stop disposing of dead cattle in open pits. That disposal method is common throughout the West Plains. Seipp hopes ranchers in the area can be reimbursed for the cost of preventive practices.

“Do they have the financial ability to do this? No,” he said. “And the community should be stepping up.”

WDFW’s lethal removal policy allows killing wolves if they prey on livestock three times in a 30-day period or four times in a 10-month periodThat policy was developed in 2016 by WDFW and its 18-member Wolf Advisory Group, which represents the concerns of environmentalists, hunters and livestock ranchers.

The policy also stipulates that cattle producers must have employed at least two proactive deterrence techniques. Lethal control is allowed in the eastern third of the state where wolves are protected by state endangered species rules. Wolves remain federally protected in the western two-thirds of the state.

This Badass Lady Cow Who Broke Out of Her Farm to Join a Wild Bison Herd Is Our Hero



Washington Wildlife Agency Issues Kill Orders for Two More Wolf Packs

For Immediate Release, November 7, 2018

Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495, ngreenwald@biologicaldiversity.org


OLYMPIA, Wash.— Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind today authorized the killing of wolves in the Smackout pack in Stevens County and the remaining wolves of the Togo pack in Ferry County. The Department already has been trying since Oct. 27 to kill the last adult and pup of the Old Profanity Territory pack in Ferry County.

“We’re devastated that Washington officials are killing still more endangered wolves when science shows it won’t reduce livestock loss or improve tolerance for these misunderstood animals,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Three kill operations going at once on an endangered species by a state wildlife agency is very disturbing. They’re wiping out pack after pack, mostly at the behest of one livestock owner.”

Since 2012 the state has killed 21 state-endangered wolves, 17 of whom were killed for the same livestock operator, a longtime, vocal opponent of wolf recovery. The ongoing kill operation to kill the OPT pack’s father wolf and only remaining pup, as well as the kill order issued today for members of the Smackout pack, are on behalf of the same individual.

In September the Department killed the father wolf of the Togo pack, leaving his mate to fend for their two pups on her own. In October the Department killed the breeding female of the Old Profanity Territory pack and a five-month-old pup from the pack, leaving the breeding male on his own to provide for the sole remaining pup.

Both kill actions made it more likely the adults would attack more livestock, since livestock are easier prey than deer or elk for a lone wolf to successfully hunt. In both instances that proved to be the case, and even though it was the Department’s own actions that set these packs up for more conflict, the Department intends to eradicate both wolf families.

“Washingtonians overwhelmingly support wolf recovery,” said Greenwald. “Restoring these beautiful, intelligent animals will result in some loss of livestock, which is why the state compensates ranchers for their losses. But wildlife officials should not continue to kill this still endangered species.”

Smackout pack wolf

Smackout pack wolf photo by Carter Niemeyer. This image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


More press releases

Washington Fish and Wildlife targets 2 more wolfpacks

Wolfpacks in Stevens and Ferry counties have been attacking cattle; state authorizes killing wolves.

Don JenkinsCapital Press

Published on November 7, 2018 9:50AM

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed Sept. 7 that wolves in the Togo pack attacked this calf. The calf survived but was euthanized to end its suffering. Fish and Wildlife issued a permit Nov. 7 allowing the rancher to shoot the pack’s remaining three wolves if caught in a private fenced pasture with cattle.


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed Sept. 7 that wolves in the Togo pack attacked this calf. The calf survived but was euthanized to end its suffering. Fish and Wildlife issued a permit Nov. 7 allowing the rancher to shoot the pack’s remaining three wolves if caught in a private fenced pasture with cattle.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind today authorized the killing of wolves in two packs attacking cattle in the northeast corner of the state. The orders come as the department continues to try to remove the rest of a third wolfpack.

The department plans to kill one or two wolves in the Smackout pack in Stevens County. Susewind also gave permission to a rancher in Ferry County to shoot the remaining three wolves in the Togo pack in Ferry County if the wolves enter a private fenced pasture with cattle.

Fish and Wildlife is continuing an effort to remove the remaining two wolves in the Old Profanity pack, also in Ferry County, the department’s wolf policy coordinator, Donny Martorello, said Wednesday. The department killed wolves in the pack in September and resumed targeting the pack Oct. 26 because of depredations on cattle continued.

Fish and Wildlife won’t immediately undertake removing the Togo pack because it’s occupied with the two other packs, but may in the coming weeks, according to the department.

Fish and Wildlife shot one Togo pack wolf in early September, but the pack has continued to attack cattle. The wolf already had been wounded by the rancher, who said he was approached by the wolf and shot in self-defense.

The department protocol calls for removing one or two wolves initially and waiting to see whether wolf depredations on livestock stop.

Fish and Wildlife won’t start the lethal-removal operation against the Smackout pack, or allow the shooting of Togo pack wolves, until Thursday at the earliest. The early morning directives today give environmental groups one day to go to court to challenge the order.

The notice is fallout from a lawsuit by environmental groups challenging an order last year to kill wolves. A Thurston County Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit, but said the department should give time for courts to review future lethal-removal orders.

The Smackout pack has killed four heifers and injured one calf on private land since Aug. 20, according to Fish and Wildlife. Four of the attacks occurred between Oct. 14 and Nov. 1.

Fish and Wildlife considers lethal removal after a pack attacks three times in 30 days or four times in 10 months. The department policy calls for ranchers to do whatever they can to prevent the attacks and for wildlife managers to conclude that the attacks will continue unless the state intervenes.

The Smackout pack has four or five adult wolves, according to recent surveys by the department. The pack includes one female wolf that had been trapped and fitted with a radio collar that transmits her location. The department has not seen evidence that the pack produced pups this year.

The Togo pack has attacked cattle at least six times in the past 10 months, according to Fish and Wildlife. Two of the attacks were confirmed after the department shot one of two adults in the pack. The department confirmed the first attack Sept. 7, but held off restarting lethal removal because the department was concerned that killing the last adult would doom the pups given their size at the time.

Fish and Wildlife confirmed Oct. 26 that the pack had attacked another calf. The latest depredation indicates the pack will continue to prey on livestock, according to the department.

Fish and Wildlife said in a statement today that it did not expect the lethal-removal operations to harm the state’s overall recovery objectives. The goal is to have wolves established and regularly reproducing at least as far west as the Cascades. Washington wolves now are mostly confined to Eastern Washington, particularly in four northeast counties.

The wolf population in the eastern one-third of Washington is more than three times the recovery goal for that region, according to Fish and Wildlife.

As the wolf population has grown in that corner of the state, so has attacks on livestock. The department has removed wolves before, dating back to 2012, but has never had three lethal-removal operations active at the same time.

Fish and Wildlife approves killing of remaining two wolves in the old Profanity Peak pack area

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 26, 2018, 10:31 a.m.

FILE - This April 18, 2008 file photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife shows a grey wolf. The final two members of a wolf pack occupying the old Profanity Peak Pack area will be killed, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife news release. (Gary Kramer / AP)
FILE – This April 18, 2008 file photo provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife shows a grey wolf. The final two members of a wolf pack occupying the old Profanity Peak Pack area will be killed, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife news release. (Gary Kramer / AP)

The final two members of a wolf pack occupying the old Profanity Peak Pack area will be killed, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife news release.

The kill order comes after members of the pack, which the department dubbed the Old Profanity Territory pack, killed or injured at least 16 cattle. The most recent was on Tuesday, according to the release.

WDFW killed a member of the pack on Sept. 16 following documented depredations. Per agency policy WDFW then monitored the area to see if lethal removal was effective. Despite two depredations in early October WDFW refrained from killing more wolves due to concerns about whether the range riding and other nonlethal deterrents were being implemented effectively.

The livestock in question are on a federal grazing allotment. Per allotment rules the producer was supposed to have his cattle off the land on Oct. 15. However, because of the “dense timber and rugged terrain” 10 percent of the producer’s cattle remain on the federal land.

In an interview Thursday Jay Shepherd, the wolf program lead for Conservation Northwest and one of the founders of the Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative, said in past years wolf-cattle conflicts had usually tapered off by now.

“It’s a weird year,” he said. “It just keeps going.”

WDFW must wait eight court hours between the announcement of a lethal action order and the execution of the order. In the past environmental groups have used that time to challenge the kill order.

Despite losses of roughly a dozen wolves a year from selective state-authorized lethal control, plus poaching, vehicle collisions and other human-related causes, Washington’s wolf population has grown each year. A minimum of 122 wolves, 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs was reported by the WDFW this winter.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

The full news release is copied below:

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind today reauthorized department staff to lethally remove the remaining two wolves from a pack that has repeatedly preyed on cattle while occupying the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) in the Kettle River Range of Ferry County.

On Sept. 28 the department initiated an evaluation period to determine whether removing two wolves from the OPT pack last month has changed the pack’s behavior and reduced the potential for recurrent wolf depredations on livestock.

The Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the department’s protocol indicate that a post-removal evaluation period should consider any depredations that take place after one or more wolves are removed from a pack.

The department documented two wolf depredations to calves found in the allotment between Oct. 5-7, and determined that the depredation by the OPT on Oct. 5 likely occurred after the removal period.

That incident would have supported a decision to remove more wolves at that time, but the Director sustained the evaluation period to consider the details and complexities of the situation in the field.

The U.S. Forest Service allotment where the affected producer grazes his livestock is large and lies entirely within the territory of the OPT pack. After the Oct. 5 depredation, the department took additional steps to document the range-riding operation on the allotment to make sure it is as effective as it can be.

However, the department documented another wolf depredation to livestock on Oct. 23, bringing the total to 16 wolf depredations by the OPT pack.

The affected producer was scheduled to remove his livestock from the U.S. Forest Service allotment by Oct.15. In practice, about 90 percent of the livestock are usually removed by that date. Due to the dense timber and rugged terrain, it may take several weeks longer to round up all the cattle on the allotment.

The producer is transporting a portion of his cattle to private grazing lands west of the Kettle Crest and another portion out of state. The private grazing lands west of the Kettle Crest are within the OPT pack territory, although they are at a lower elevations and on the periphery of the pack territory, which may reduce the likelihood of wolf depredations in these areas this winter.

There are also several other allotments with cattle within the OPT that are in a similar situation in terms of removing them from Forest Service grazing allotments.

The livestock producer who owns the affected livestock has continued to employ non-lethal methods to deter wolves from preying on his herd. Strategies used include contracting range riders to monitor his herd, removing or securing livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, and removing known sick and injured livestock from the grazing area until they are healed.