We shouldn't be blaming biofuel production for rising food prices and environmental degradation while ignoring the immense harm of industrial meat production, writes Frances Cerra Whittelsey.
"Biofuel critics...often frame the problem as a choice between feeding people and feeding SUVs; they blame rising food prices on diverting food crops to fuel production. But it's false to frame the biofuel debate as a choice between people or SUVs.
The shocking fact is that production of beef, pork and poultry is a bigger part of the climate problem than the cars and trucks we drive, indeed of the whole transportation sector...the meat industry is a giant source of greenhouse gases, of which carbon dioxide is only one, and not the most dangerous one. All those steer feedlots and factory buildings crammed with pigs and chickens produce immense amounts of animal wastes that give off methane. On an equivalent basis to carbon dioxide, methane is twenty-three times more potent as a greenhouse gas. When you add in the production of fertilizer and other aspects of animal farming (including land use changes, feed transport, etc.) livestock farming is responsible for nearly one-fifth of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, more than the transportation sector, according to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Reducing our addiction to meat may not be popular, but we need to view our love affair with burgers and barbecue in the same frame as gas-guzzling SUVs."