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Pollution from food production halved, scientists gave the recipe UN Nitrogen ABPP

Pollution in food production can occur due to the use of nitrogen and animal excreta such as manure as synthetic fertilizers. In Europe, up to 80 percent of the nitrogen used during agricultural activities can leak into the environment if excessive amounts of nutrients are used inefficiently. Nitrogen can leak in the form of ammonia and nitrogen oxides, which are harmful air pollutants, nitrous oxide, which is a potent greenhouse gas, and nitrates, which affect water quality. This will impact biodiversity, climate and health. However, a new UN report offers a prescription for halving pollution from food production through balanced changes in agricultural and food chain management and diets.

The report is called Appetite for Change.

The fact that there are inefficiencies in farms, retail and waste water practices means that the efficiency of the food system in Europe is only 18 percent. To halve the total loss of nitrogen to air, water and soil, it is important to halve the average European meat and dairy consumption and replace these products with a plant-based diet; Cutting down on food waste by retailers and consumers to reduce the amount of production required; providing financial incentives for foods that have less impact on the environment; Motivating farmers, industry, government and consumers to work together to reduce nitrogen losses throughout the food system; ensuring more efficient fertilizer application and storage of manure; improving waste water management to collect nitrogen from sewage to reduce emissions and enable nutrients to be used on farms; Implement a combination of policies that address food production and consumption, among other ‘ingredients’ to better support the shift towards sustainable systems, the report says.

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The amount of protein consumed by the average person in Europe exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. A balanced diet with less meat and dairy will not only improve nutrition and make people healthier, but also reduce food pollution caused by nitrogen.

In a statement released by the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology, Professor Mark Sutton, one of the editors of the report, said action does not start and end at the farm gate, but requires a holistic approach that involves not only farmers but policy. Manufacturers and retailers also get involved. , water companies and individuals. He also said the analysis found that among ways to halve nitrogen by 2030, actions such as halving meat and dairy consumption scored highest.

Growing vegetables is not only more efficient than livestock farming, but also reduces emissions. Less land and fertilizer is required.

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About 40 percent of farmland in Europe produces food for livestock, and the cost of nitrogen fertilizer for farmers has increased over the past two years, largely due to the war in Ukraine. This highlights the need to reduce wasteful losses of expensive nitrogen resources.

In the statement, Dr. Adrian Leap, editor-in-chief of the report, said that the unprecedented increases in energy, fertilizer and food prices since 2021 underline the need to address the vulnerabilities of the current food system, and reduce the need for plant-based diets. Reduce land and fertilizer use, energy use, and increase the world’s resilience to the current multi-crises of food, energy, and climate. Freeing up land to restore habitats would help address the climate and biodiversity crises, he said.

To write the report, researchers examined 144 scenarios, including varying reductions in meat and dairy consumption, investments in wastewater treatment and agricultural and retail practices, and analyzed the benefits to the environment and health.

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The scientists wrote that a balanced series of actions, including a decongestive approach, would refer to cutting meat and dairy consumption in half; And a 49 percent reduction in nitrogen loss could be achieved through better agricultural and food chain management. This approach received the highest score for net social benefit.

Plant-based diets, combined with ambitious technological measures, could reduce nitrogen waste by 84 percent. However, this scenario did not provide a net social benefit.

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