UC Davis Event Weighs in on the Impacts of Animal-sourced Foods

UC Davis World Food Center event

Climate change is shifting the conversation among researchers investigating the impacts of animal sourced foods.

On the last day of the UC Davis World Food Center’s May 14-15th, 2019 event, “Aligning the Food System for Improved Nutrition in Animal Source Foods,” AMA Innovation Lab director Michael Carter opened the afternoon session with a discussion about how financial instruments can help combat malnutrition and alter poverty dynamics in the face of climate change.

“The frequency and severity of these climate events are making it even more difficult to ensure communities are food secure,” said Carter. “By incorporating innovative financial instruments, such as index-based insurance, proactive governments can change poverty and nutrition dynamics.”

The AMA Innovation Lab’s economists and scientists have collaborated on research in Kenya and Ethiopia looking to combat the effects of climate change and protect vulnerable pastoralists populations from the impacts of drought using index-base livestock insurance.

Research has shown that households with this kind of insurance are able to both protect their livestock assets and bolster the food consumption of their families.

Joining professor Carter, researchers from across UC Davis presented on other innovative strategies and possible public policies to address the environmental impacts of animal-sourced foods. The balance between the ability of animal-sourced foods to bolster nutritional density for vulnerable populations and the environmental impacts of those same animals, especially given climate change, was a looming question.

“Additives to cattle feed will be in the market in the next five years that will help reduce livestock methane emissions by 30 percent,” said Ermias Kebreab, director of the World Food Center and associate dean for global engagement in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. His research here at UC Davis is investigating whether seaweed could be an answer to the environmental impacts of excessively belching cows.

Robyn Alders, senior scientific advisor for global livestock and aquaculture policy at Chatham House agreed, emphasizing the need to consider the sustainability of animal-sourced foods as well as household nutrition needs.

“What animals eat impact their carbon footprint,” said Alders.

Learn more about the event