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Organic, non-organic meats have similar greenhouse gas impacts

Organic, non-organic meats have similar greenhouse gas impacts
The production of organic and conventional meats yields similar levels of greenhouse gas, according to a new study. Photo by Cally Lawson/Pixabay

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Approximately the same amounts of carbon dioxide and methane gas are released to produce a pound of organic meat and a pound of non-organic meat, according to calculations by a trio of German scientists.

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming, researchers and policy makers need to better understand greenhouse gas impacts of different industries and production processes, according to the researchers.

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When researchers calculated the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the raising, slaughtering, processing and distribution of different types of meats, both conventional and organic, they found little difference in the carbon and methane inputs.

The results of their analysis were published this month in the journal Nature Communications.

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Conventional meat production involves the use of pesticides, the production and use of which results in significant carbon emissions.

However, animals raised for organic meat production grow slower and yield less meat, leading to greater methane emissions.

More specifically, researchers found conventional and organic beef production involved similar levels of greenhouse emissions.

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Organic chicken production involved slightly higher levels of carbon and methane emissions, while organic pork production yielded slightly lower greenhouse emissions.

Researchers also compared the greenhouse gas emissions of animal production to the production of organic plant-based products. The study showed organic plant-based products yield the lowest greenhouse emissions.

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The authors of the new study suggest the prices of both conventional and organic meats need to be adjusted to reflect their negative environmental impacts.

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"The large difference of relative external climate costs between food categories as well as the absolute external climate costs of the agricultural sector imply the urgency for policy measures that close the gap between current market prices and the true costs of food," the scientists wrote.

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