The number of animals killed to make one chicken breast just keeps going up

It turns out that meat production is not only a major source of greenhouse gases and severe air and water pollution, it is also undermining marine ecosystems. From a New York Times editorial:
Per capita meat consumption more than doubled over the past half-century as the global economy expanded. It is expected to double again by 2050. Which raises the question, what does all that meat eat before it becomes meat?

Increasingly the answer is very small fish harvested from the ocean and ground into meal and pressed into oil. According to a new report by scientists from the University of British Columbia and financed by the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, 37 percent by weight of all the fish taken from the ocean is forage fish: small fish like sardines and menhaden. Nearly half of that is fed to farmed fish; most of the rest is fed to pigs and poultry.

The problem is that forage fish are the feedstock of marine mammals and birds and larger species of fish. In other words, farmed fish, pigs and poultry — and the humans who eat them — are competing for food directly with aquatic species that depend on those forage fish for their existence.
It's very positive that The New York Times editorial page is devoting space to issues like this, and what's even better was their concluding remark: "The real answers are support for sustainable agriculture in the developing world and encouraging healthy, less meat-based eating habits as a true sign of affluence everywhere." This is the first time I've seen a mainstream source call for less meat-eating, and coming from the same writers who made one of the most pathetic cop-outs I've seen on the meat issue less than two years ago, it has to be regarded as progress.

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