How animal products are ‘dehydrating’ the global water supply | Inquirer Business

How animal products are ‘dehydrating’ the global water supply

/ 12:03 AM January 09, 2016

The ongoing El Niño phenomenon threatens to cause more weather extremes in the coming months. This early, meteorologists forecast colder cold months and a hotter summer season, the latter posing a bigger problem for the agricultural sector which is bracing for a longer dry spell resulting in droughts and water shortages.

The weather, however, is just a part of a complex interplay of factors affecting our water supply.

Deforestation, topsoil erosion, increase in greenhouse gases, and environmental damage as a result of raising livestock (cows, pigs, chicken and other animals being raised for food) have been shown to cause water shortage and water pollution.


Large volumes of water are required to produce meat compared to vegetables, fruits and grain production. According to agriculture experts, the amount of water used to produce a given amount of meat products could grow 10 times as much corn, and six times as much wheat.


Here are the required amounts of water to produce meat products, versus that required to grow the same weight of wheat and corn. The data here has been sourced from Livestock Ecology. Worldwatch Paper 103: Taking Stock: Animal Farming and the Environment 1991, and the US Department of Commerce 1992 Census of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey (1994):

1 pound of boneless pork: 385 gallons
1 pound of beef: 360
1 pound of poultry: 337 gallons
1 pound of wheat: 58
1 pound of corn: 33

Additionally, according to the Soil and Water Specialists at the University of California Agricultural Extension, as cited in the book “Food Revolution” authored by John Robbins, here are the water requirements of vegetables and grains versus meat products:

1 pound of lettuce: 23
1 pound of tomatoes: 23 gallons
1 pound of potatoes: 24 gallons
1 pound of wheat: 25
1 pound of carrots: 33 gallons
1 pound of apples: 49 gallons
1 pound of chicken: 815 gallons
1 pound of pork: 1,630
1 pound of beef: 5,214

“The rise in worldwide meat consumption has produced a cascade of consequences. Greater demand for meat increases the demand for livestock feed.

This, in turn, pressures the world’s farmers to achieve higher yields from their fields. Such pressures may lead them to adopt intensive farming practices that may cause irreversible damage to the earth,” said Neil Nedley, MD, author of “Proof Positive,” as he quoted the study “Population


Dynamics, Man and Environment, a Health Perspective,” and “Fallout from the Population Bomb: Impacts on Human Resources and Ecosystems,” 1990.

“Furthermore, attempts to raise an inordinately large number of animals in a given area can damage the environment. Consequences can include the loss of forests and even the creation of new deserts (a process called ‘desertification’),” said Nedley.

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TAGS: animal products, health and science, Water Supply, Weather

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