Global population says ‘Pass the chicken’

Meat-eating is on the rise around the globe, a trend that could raise the risk of animal disease spread across borders, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said this week in a document circulated at a meeting on meat and dairy products. Worldwide meat consumption is expected to grow by 2 percent each year until 2015 — the result of population increases, rising incomes, and the movement of people from rural areas to cities. “However, increased volume of trade and improvements in transportation, infrastructure and technology hold potential risks of spreading of animal diseases rapidly worldwide,” FAO warned. The agency also forecasted that poultry will become the meat of choice over red meat, because of recent outbreaks of diseases like bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and foot-and-mouth disease in meat-exporting countries. The costs of dealing with animal disease outbreaks can be high, monetarily and environmentally: “The disposal of slaughtered carcasses has huge environmental implications; during the first six weeks of the UK [foot-and-mouth disease] outbreak, the burning of carcasses released dioxins into the atmosphere amounting to some 18 percent of the UK’s annual emissions,” FAO said.

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