by Mark Edwards
na’s quest to resolve world hunger cannot ignore the billons of committed carnivores that eat millions of tons of meat and dairy products. Increased consumption of animal proteins creates a towering demand for animal feed to grow animal protein for people.
In 30 years, algae meat substitutes will replace animal products as the primary source of protein for most sensible people. Consumers will hit a tipping point when algae meat substitutes clearly deliver a superior combination of health, taste, cost and ecological benefits.
Until consumers have a healthier choice, algae can improve animal products in a fashion similar to algae biofertilizer. Algae biofeed will improve animal products by delivering better nutrition than conventional animal feed. Healthier nutrition will result in healthier animal products, with enhanced nutralence, fats, color and taste.
A fascinating irony will occur with algae biofeeds. Staunch Texas meat producers will begin producing algae biofeeds for their animals. They will see excellent results in their animal’s heath due to the algae biofeed foundational work from Texas A&M University’s AgriLife.
After several years, a light bulb will flash in each farmer’s brain. Farmers are smart, and they will think: “It’s my mission to grow the best protein for human consumption, at the least cost. Why should I go to all the trouble to grow animals for protein when my algae biofeed delivers twice the protein of beef – and the protein is healthier?” Farmers will decide to grow protein for direct human consumption and skip wasting resources, time and money on animals. Farmers, or their children, will lead the charge to “save our animals.”
Until algae meat substitutes are available, algae can lift farmers by reducing the cost of animal feed and substantially cutting the ecological footprint required for feed production. Comprehensive nutritional and toxicological studies have demonstrated that algae biofeed as supplements or substitutes for food grains, support healthier animals that grow faster, enjoy higher survivability and create less waste.
Today, two out of three world citizens subsist on local or imported grains and local plants because they cannot afford meat. Livestock are the single largest user of land as meat production accounts for 70% of all agricultural land and 40% of the land surface of the planet. In order to produce meat, roughly one-third of the world’s food grains go to feed livestock. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO’s) report, Livestock’s Long Shadow estimates that livestock are responsible for about 18% of anthropologic GHGs.
Meat is dramatically underpriced relative to plant foods because meat production benefits from huge crop and Big Oil subsidies. Meat prices reflect no environmental accounting, even though meat producers extract trillions of gallons of fossil water, billions of gallons of fuels and millions of tons of chemicals. Agricultural waste streams are the primary polluters of surface and groundwater, yet the public costs and resource losses are not reflected in meat prices.
Many new consumers have become carnivores and demand animal-based foods, which create an ecological cost of multiple pounds of grain for each pound of meat or dairy. People around the world desire to emulate the consumption patterns of the rich, especially in China, India and Indonesia.
Animal production is neither ecologically cheap nor efficient. Feed conversion ratios, grain to meat, are:
- Farm raised tilapia or catfish 2:1 (most weight gain in fish is water trapped in tissues)
- Poultry (chicken or turkey) 3:1
- Salmon and trout 5:1
- Beef, pork or lamb 8 to 12:1
Algae biofeed does not change feed conversion ratios, but algae biofeed will provide an eco-smart alternative to consumptive food grains.
Meat production consumes one-third of the world’s fresh water. A fast-food half-pounder costs $6 and requires 2,400 gallons of water to feed the steer. Scientific American published an excellent case about the alarming ecological cost of beef. Algae biofeed can cut the net water cost of beef by 70% by growing biofeed with no or minimal fresh water.
Social actions and medical research have put meat producers in a bind. Animal activists criticize farmers’ cruelty to animals. Social justice voices shout that 760 million tons of food grains are fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. Environmentalist are backed by the UN’s Livestock’s Long Shadow, which concludes that eating meat is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” Health advocates point out that vegetarians live six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters. A healthy vegetarian diet supports a lifetime of good health and provides protection against numerous diseases and the biggest killers – heart disease, cancer and strokes.