The Alltech ONE Ideas Conference

Every year, animal nutrition company Alltech unites the animal pro- tein industry for a conference, inviting thought-provoking present- ers. Due to Covid-19, the 2021 edition had to be organised online rather than in a physical venue in Lexington, KY, as was the case for the 2020 edition. More than 70 presentations were given across 22– 24 June 2021, and most can still be viewed online on-demand. Next year’s event is planned to take place 22–25 May 2022.

A multistorey sow facility in southern China. Farmers can be the saviours of Mother Earth

Mother Earth is under a great deal of pressure, feeling the pain of billions of inhabitants going about their daily lives sometimes with complete disregard to the damage they are causing. During his keynote speech, David McWilliams, economist and professor at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, discussed the world and the Covid-19 pandemic. The pressures, said Prof McWilliams, include global warming, rising sea levels, polluted rivers, parched lands, blackened skies and global pan- demics. He said, “We all have a fair idea where the story ends. But there is an alternative. It’s legacy thinking. And the farmer, the traditional steward of our planet, its animals, its land, forests and rivers, can be its saviour. So, with just one planet to share, we’re all in this together. Con- servationists and consumers, farmers and activists, industry and

government, man and Mother Na- ture, and the goal is the three H’s: healthy people, healthy society and a healthy planet.” His take-home message was that agriculture is the reason our civi- lisations developed, and our food sys- tems and diets still remain diverse and amazingly responsive: “While the challenge of feeding the growing planet will fall on fewer shoulders than was the case in the past, with innovation and the will to be that good ancestor, we will continue to produce more with less, and this time for a healthier people, healthier society and a healthier planet.”

A different diet will not save the planet

New eating habits and an ever-in- creasing focus on agricultural ef- fects on the environment featured in the keynote speech by Dr Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. He said: “They are saying that we need to change our diet in order to save our planet. And while their ideas may not be based on fact, they are certainly

not alone. We see a lot of negativity in many media publications towards agriculture and, more specifically, animal agriculture and particularly also the area of beef production.” Dr Lyons highlighted how some of the best restaurants in the world are

removing beef from their menus and how animal protein is also being removed from many recipes, all because some people think producing beef harms the climate. Europe has introduced the Green Deal, and in the US the Biden adminis- tration is drawing up its own climate programme. Dr Lyons said farmers need to stand up for their industry when it comes to the benefits of farming on the environment. He quoted one surprising figure that if the US eliminated all its dairy cows, greenhouse gas emissions there would fall by only 0.7%, and at the same time 39 essential nutrients would be removed from human diets. He concluded that: “We really have to real- ise that we will not save the planet with a different plate. It’s our utilisa- tion of fossil fuels that is driving climate change. If all of humanity turned vegan, we would not actually save our climate challenge.”

▶ PIG PROGRESS | Volume 37, No. 7, 2021 19


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