The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Footprint Study, recently released by AgResearch, a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, shows that Kiwis are continuing to look for ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their agricultural production. The study is a 'life-cycle assessment' of New Zealand's lamb exports to the UK, quantifying the carbon emissions associated with the production, processing, transport and consumption of a 100g portion of lamb meat considered to be a recommended serving size.
Not surprisingly, the research has found that 80% of GHG emissions are from natural processes associated with sheep utilising pasture as feed, mainly belching and manure. Processing activities accounted for just 3% of total emissions, transport 5%, and consumption in the UK 12%.
The analysis highlights the fact that, despite shipping product from one side of the world to the other in refrigerated containers, transportation is only a very small contributor to the overall carbon footprint. That's not to say that emissions from oceanic transport cannot be reduced, but reinforces the view that 'food miles' are just an emotive argument used by the anti-import lobby. The real savings in GHG emissions are to be made from science-based research into more efficiently converting pasture to meat something that all meat producers around the world have a vested interest in doing and should work towards more collaboratively.
The study is described as 'non-comparative', as no other such other 'farm to fork' survey on GHGs has been carried out. AgResearch acknowledges that the study is not perfect, but until you have a basis for quantifying and measuring something, it's difficult to know if you are doing things better and believe me, when it comes to lamb, New Zealanders are good at doing things well.
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