PEOPLE should halve the amount of meat they eat as part of efforts to cut pollution caused by nutrients such as nitrogen, experts said today.
Nitrogen and other mineral fertilisers are key to feeding the world’s population but burgeoning use of nutrients is causing water, land and air pollution which harms human health, oceans and wildlife, and contributes to climate change, they claimed.
Use of the minerals is expected to increase by up to 50 per cent over the next 40 years, causing more pollution and damage to habitats, and more greenhouse gases, according to a report for the United Nations Environment Programme.
However, improving the efficiency of the way nutrients are used by 20 per cent by 2020 could reduce the annual use of nitrogen and save the world about £110 billion a year, in reduced fertiliser use and reductions in the cost to human health and the environment, the study said.
One of the main sources of pollution of minerals is agriculture.
Around four-fifths of the nitrogen and phosphorus applied in farming is consumed by livestock rather than directly by humans, and about 70 per cent of the world’s agricultural land is used for producing meat and dairy.
By reducing the amount of meat they eat, people could help reduce pollution.