Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Reducing the global environmental impact of livestock production: the minilivestock option


Reducing the global environmental impact of livestock production: the minilivestock option


Livestock production is among the most eco-degrading of anthropogenic activities.
Sharply increasing demand for animal protein is set to compound the problem.
The paper deals with a more eco-friendly alternative to livestock–minilivestock.
It is comparable to macrolivestock in terms of protein and other nutrient content.
The enormous potential and the advantages of utilizing minilivestock are described.


Livestock production is among the most ecologically harmful of all anthropogenic activities. It has massive direct and indirect contributions to global warming besides causing widespread ecodegradation in other ways. But livestock production cannot be reduced because, as it is, the global demand for animal protein is far higher than the supply. Whereas in developed countries people get about 95 g of protein per day in their diets, of which nearly 60% is made up of animal protein, in developing countries the protein intake is only about 45 g/day and of it a mere 15% is made up of animal protein. This gap in the availability of animal protein for a large fraction of the world's population who desires it, is continuing to increase because of the increased globalization-induced rich-poor gap across the world.
Besides the fact that conventional ways of animal protein production using livestock―chicken, goat, pork, beef―are highly eco-degrading; in terms of availability of pasture lands as well as enhancement in productivity of edible zoomass with inputs from science and technology, the upper limits of animal protein production have already been reached. The ocean-based food production has similarly reached unsustainable levels. As a consequence, now onwards the demand will increasingly outstrip supply.
In this backdrop it is essential that we look at the potential of minilivestock, especially insects. As brought out in this paper, human beings have evolved as entomophagous species and there are even suggestions that some of the special proteins and other constituents present in the insects might have helped the human brain to develop as rapidly as it did to enable its evolution into Home sapiens. Moreover, several species of insects are prized delicacies in advanced countries like Japan, Australia, and Europe. Hence, insects are not restricted to being ‘subsistence food’ of grossly impoverished people as one might imagine though a lot of species do help the world's poor to survive. If other virtues of insects are considered― especially their high food-to-zoomass conversion efficiency, quick growth rate, enormous variety, and world-wide distribution―their potential as a much more sustainable source of animal protein than conventional livestock would become obvious.


  • Global warming;
  • Methane;
  • Minilivestock;
  • Macrolivestock;
  • Entomophagy;
  • Insects

Corresponding author.
Concurrently Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Fire protection Engineering, Worcester, Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA 01609, USA.