La revue Viandes et produits carnés

La revue française de la recherche en viandes et produits carnés  ISSN  2555-8560




Environmental impact of different diets

The aim of this study is to give a more complete picture of the environmental impact of different eating habits in various European countries (Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Portugal, Slovenia). Using life cycle analysis, the results show that, for all five countries, the total environmental impact is the result of the amount of consumption of a specific product combined with the intensity of that impact. In particular, livestock products (meat, eggs, dairy products) have consequences for all impact categories. Conversely, the transport and marketing phases contribute very little to the total damage. In addition to agricultural practices and consumption level of food products, the impact is significantly influenced by the type of food consumed, highlighting the importance of our food choices.

How can European livestock farming act on the levers of agroecology to face climate change ?

While livestock farming contributes heavily to climate change, the latter also has direct and indirect negative impacts on livestock systems. Agroecology represents a pathway to help the European livestock sector address the challenges raised by climate change, by reducing the ecological footprint of livestock activities, increasing the self-sufficiency of farms and reducing their sensitivity to hazards. In such perspectives, it would be appropriate to develop and mobilize animal diversity within farms and territories, to take advantage of the services rendered by livestock and to improve the distribution of livestock according to the local availability of feed resources. These three points together find their full meaning as part of the re-connection of livestock activities with their physical environment and crop production. In order to accompany the agro-ecological transition, farmers’ skills should evolve, as well as the approaches of agricultural education and counseling; agricultural and territorial politics should also be adapted. Such dynamics are already in motion but will have to be pursued. In addition, economic, socio-political and institutional aspects, which have not been analyzed here, should be taken into account.

Which method for environmental assessment and labeling for the ruminant red meat sector?

Interbev, the National Interprofessional Association of Cattle and Meat, took part in the experimentation of environmental labelling of food, promulgated by the AGEC law (anti-waste law for a circular economy) and the “Climate and resilience” law. The main objective for INTERBEV was to contribute to the evolution of LCA-based (Life Cycle Analysis) environmental methodologies and Agribalyse data base for LCI (Life Cycle Inventory). Currently these have shortcomings and methodological biases very unfavorable to ruminant meat production, which has a long-life cycle. Conversely, the environmental benefits recognized by society and public policies, linked in particular to the enhancement of grasslands and the associated ecosystem services (biodiversity, carbone sequestration) are not included. This project made it possible to rebalance the existing indicators - in LCA or non-LCA - making it possible to fill these gaps and to question certain aspects of the methodology used in Agribalyse (allocation, climate change, soil occupation). Different aggregation and weighting methods were evaluated, considering consumer expectations and priority issues identified by both stakeholders (including NGO in particular) and industry players. The results show that an assessment and labelling alternative to those based on LCA alone is not only possible but essential for a complete vision of agricultural systems and an informed choice of consumers.

Livestock and sustainability: challenges and opportunities

This article provides a summary of the contribution of the global livestock sector to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It is organized around four priorities: 1/ food security and nutrition, 2/ livelihoods and economic growth, 3/ public health and animal health including animal welfare and finally, 4/ natural resources management and climate. This article presents quantified examples of the impacts of the sector, both negative and positive, and suggests areas for improvement so that the livestock sector contributes to the transition towards more sustainable food systems.

Towards the environmental labelling of animal products

The French association of animal production (AFZ) organized three webinars in order to take stock of knowledge about the environmental assessment of animal products, in the perspective of the upcoming environmental labelling of food items. This article summarizes the nine presentations and the debates during these webinars. The first webinar considered the issue of the environmental assessment of livestock systems and their products, within the broader framework of sustainable human food as defined by the FAO, thus emphasizing that the solutions for improvement are diverse depending on the country, as well in terms of farming systems as in evolution of production and consumption. The second webinar was devoted to the methods and data available for the environmental assessment of livestock systems and animal products. The third webinar focused on the environmental labelling of food items with a first contribution on the approaches to identify more sustainable diets, followed by three presentations related to the labelling experiment conducted by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, in partnership with actors in the field. These different contributions underline the importance of the methodological achievements and the available data, even if some improvements still need to be made, in particular to better take into account the specificities of pasture-based and organic livestock farming systems. In addition, the labelling experiments confirmed consumers' interest in getting an explicit information about the environmental impact of their food.

Evaluation of meat co-product allocations as part of Life Cycle Analysis: a new method based on biophysical parameters

The sharing of total environmental impacts between the different products of a multi-output system is crucial in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). If possible, standards recommend subdivision then substitution methods. Allocation rules are however often necessary. With allocation, the total impact is shared between the different coproducts proportionally to a value that characterizes the coproducts. This proportionality can be based on physical values (such as mass, protein, dry matter, etc.) or again the economic value of coproducts. As they are based on various types of parameters, allocation rules can lead to significantly different environmental impact results. This creates debate between stakeholders and a consensus is often difficult to reach, this being the case in several sectors including the meat sector. To fuel the debate even more, Chen et al. (2017) proposed a new allocation method based on the energy needed for the growth, maintenance and activity of each tissue. This is called the biophysical allocation. The method has been judged scientifically viable but also particularly difficult to apply due to the amount of data necessary and the complexity of the calculation model. This paper presents a freeware developed to help to easily calculate biophysical, mass and economic allocation factors to allow a fair comparison: MeatPartTool. MeatPartTool also allows access to a large database of allocation factors that comprises beef cattle (132 individuals), calves (54 individuals) and lambs (14 individuals) at the slaughterhouse stage (Le Féon et al., 2020a).

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