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Grass-fed beef is bad for climate

PRINCE CHARLES is wrong to support grass-fed beef. The idea that beef from cows on pastures is good for
the environment, allowing us to eat as much as we want, doesn’t add up. “Though it would be nice if the
pro-grazers were right, they aren’t,” says Tara Garnett of the University of Oxford. “We cannot eat as much
meat as we like and save the planet.”
A typical cow releases 100 kilograms of methane a year, produced by the microorganisms in its gut, and there are about a billion cows worldwide. Since methane is a greenhouse gas, this exacerbates global warming. Also, destroying forests to feed cows emits greenhouse gases too.
But a counter-view has gained currency. Ecologist and livestock farmer Allan Savory claims pasture
plants capture carbon from the air. Pastures should also reduce our need for food crops grown on land that
releases carbon when ploughed. Garnett and her team calculated how greenhouse gases flow through
pastures.
They found that carbon capture offsets at best 20 to 60 per cent of grazing emissions. “And the
carbon capture stops after a few decades,” says Garnett. “The cattle continue to belch methane.” The
findings are published in a report, Grazed and Confused? “It asks, if we are to eat meat, is there a better way to grow it?” says Tim Benton at the University of Leeds, UK. “The answer is: not really.

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