Research published in the journal Nature Communications has revealed that the environmental impact caused by organically farmed meat is equal to that caused by conventionally farmed meat. The research was carried out to determine the exact cost of foods if their climate costs were accounted for. According to the researchers, the analyzed data should be used to set food prices and taxes that reflect the true costs of food.

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The research shows that the emissions caused by organically produced meat is similar to those from conventionally farmed meat. This is especially true for cattle and sheep. The researchers found the climate-related damage of raising organic chicken to be slightly worse than raising conventional chicken. On the other hand, organic pork was found to be slightly better in terms of emissions as compared to conventional pork.

Related: Will gene editing and cloning create super cows that resist global warming?

The research further revealed that if all climate-related costs were considered per food item produced, there would be a 40% increase in shop prices for conventional meat. At the same time, there would be a 25% increase in organic meat. This is not because organic meat causes less pollution but because it is already more expensive than conventional meat. The prices of conventional milk would rise by about 33% while that of organic milk would increase by at least 20%.

The study, led by Maximilian Pieper of the Technical University of Munich, analyzed German food production alone. But researchers say that the results would likely be replicated in many other European countries.

“We expected organic farming to score better for animal-based products but, for greenhouse gas emissions, it actually doesn’t make much difference,” Pieper said. “But in certain other aspects, organic is certainly better than conventional farming.”

Meat produced either organically or conventionally pollutes the environment in many ways. Overuse of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and mishandling of manure are some of the ways in which food production is problematic. Meat consumption can also lead to health complications. Research carried out in 2018 revealed that a 20% tax increase on red meat would be necessary to cover its associated health effects.

+ Nature Communications

Via The Guardian

Image via Pen Ash