Literature review, and what to pay attention to
What are the hidden costs, or externalities, of livestock farming?
The figures depend on the focus and the methods used.
Attempts to put a figure on animal suffering can no longer be ignored.
And all the public money paid out is part of the externalities !
The government and the industry want to inflate the positive externalities, to make people believe that livestock farming is not the problem but the solution. That’s why the chapter on “vigilance and warnings” shows that grasslands, biodiversity, mixed cropping and livestock farming, carbon farming… only provide the benefits claimed on condition that livestock numbers are reduced and management methods are adapted.
Since this literature review (summer 2023), the FAO has published “The state of food and agriculture. Revealing the true cost of food to transform agrifood systems”. The true cost of the global food system is estimated at around 10% of GDP. These are first and foremost health costs, followed by environmental costs. Of course, the harmful effects of sugars, empty calories and ultra-processed foods, as well as deficiencies, can only be partly blamed on livestock farming, but dairy products, egg products, excess meat in rich and emerging countries and, in particular, charcuterie are all part and parcel of this unhealthy and deceptively opulent industrial system.