Livestock welfare is again gaining momentum on the political and social agenda, although it never really went away. Aspects of livestock production are opposed by some for ethical, health and sustainability reasons.

In 2006, when working in communications at CSIRO, I produced an animal welfare edition of Livestock Horizons (left) which provided scientific information about the welfare of livestock in Australian production systems.

This information was important to contribute to the animal welfare debate.

What seems to be missing in these debates is consideration of sustainable livestock production in the broader context of meeting increasing global demand for protein, food security, climate change and the long-term economic and social benefits to the consumer. Technology tends to be demonised but producing enough protein to meet demand, with less arable land due to climate change, to feed a world’s population that will nearly double in one person’s lifetime, is going to require technology.

I respect the ethical and philosphical reasons why people don’t eat meat. It is an issue that has been debated by different cultures over millennia. However, most of the world’s population do eat meat. What are the sustainable alternatives that could be developed to replace intensive production enterprises that will feed us all now – and in the crowded world of 2060?

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