Livestock and fisheries have long been called out for being the top contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture industry. New research suggests that it is all because of conventional animal feed.
In a recently published study in the journal Current Biology, scientists share that at least 78% of chicken and 69% of salmon industries’ contribution to environmental degradation can be accounted to the animal feed used. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, more than 55% of both industries’ contribution also comes from the type and processing of animal feed.
This comes as a surprise, especially since the chicken and salmon industries are known to be more environmentally efficient than beef, according to scientists.
In addition to fish oil and fishmeal, the salmon industry also requires 2.3 million tonnes of crops for feed a year, mainly oil crops, soya beans, and wheat. Aside from crops, the chicken industry also relies on fishmeal and fish oil in producing animal feed. The overlap itself is a big boost in both industries’ contribution to emissions, the scientists noted.
In the future, emerging new types of animal feed, such as algae and insects may help chicken and salmon industries divert from their reliance on fishmeal and fish oil and be more sustainable.