Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ten Facts Related to the Economics of Modern Food Production

Dairy & Livestock Production

#1 The carbon footprint for a gallon of milk produced in 2007 was only 37 percent of that produced in 1944. For every 1 million cows, the reduction in global warming potential from rBST supplemented cows is equivalent to removing 400K cars from the roadways or planting 300 million trees. (Capper, 2009)

#2 Transportation accounts for at least 26% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions compared to roughly 5.8% for all of agriculture & less than 3% associated with livestock production in the U.S. (Stackhouse, 2009)

#3 The use of grain and pharmaceutical technology in beef production has resulted in a nearly 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) per pound of beef compared to grass feeding. (Avery, 2007)

#4 Bans on feed grade sub- therapeutic antibiotics in European countries lead to increased reliance on therapeutic antibiotics important to human health. (Hayes & Jensen, 2003)

Crop Production

#5 Biotechnology improves insect biodiversity, crop plant diversity, and has lower levels of carcinogens than conventional and organic corn. (Munkvold,1999;Dowd,2000; Miller &Conko,2006 ; McCreedy et al 2007, Smith et al ,1992)

#6 The use of biotech Roundup resistant crops has led to reduced herbicide use and allowed roundup to replace other herbicides that were up to 17 times more toxic. (USDA,2000)

#7 Total decreases in carbon dioxide as a result of using biotech crops was equivalent to removing 6 million cars from the road in 2007. (that’s a lot more than the # of hybrid cars sold in 2007) (Brookes & Barfoot, 2009)

Modern Agriculture in General

#8 Rather than having a negative impact on climate change, intensive agriculture has actually has a mitigating effect on climate change with a reduction of 68 kgC (249 kgCO2e) emissions relative to 1961 technology. ( Burneya et al , 2010)

#9 Small farms actually benefit more from subsidy programs than large scale farms, despite the relative shares of total subsidies paid. The impacts of subsidies on food choices have not contributed to the obesity epidemic.  (Alston et al, 2007; USDA, 2011)

#10 Local food production can actually be more energy intensive than modern efficient supply chains. On average, fuel use per cwt for local food production is about 2.18 gallons vs. .69 and 1.92 for intermediate and traditional supply chains for beef production. (Sexton, 2009; Weber,2008)


The environmental impact of dairy production: 1944 compared with 2007. Journal of Animal Science,Capper, J. L., Cady, R. A., Bauman, D. E. 2009; 87 (6): 2160 DOI: 10.2527/jas.2009-1781

San Diego Center for Molecular Agriculture: Foods from Genetically Modified Crops

A Meta-Analysis of Effects of Bt Cotton and Maize on Nontarget Invertebrates. Michelle Marvier, Chanel McCreedy, James Regetz, Peter Kareiva Science 8 June 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5830, pp. 1475 – 1477

Comparison of Fumonisin Concentrations in Kernels of Transgenic Bt Maize Hybrids and Nontransgenic Hybrids. Munkvold, G.P. et al . Plant Disease 83, 130-138 1999.

Indirect Reduction of Ear Molds and Associated Mycotoxins in Bacillus thuringiensis Corn Under Controlled and Open Field Conditions: Utility and Limitations. Dowd, J. Economic Entomology. 93 1669-1679 2000.

"Why Spurning Biotech Food Has Become a Liability.'' Miller, Henry I, Conko, Gregory, & Drew L. Kershe. Nature Biotechnology Volume 24 Number 9 September 2006.

Genetically Engineered Crops: Has Adoption Reduced Pesticide Use? Agricultural Outlook ERS/USDA Aug 2000

GM crops: global socio-economic and environmental impacts 1996- 2007. Brookes & Barfoot PG Economics report. 2009

The Environmental Safety and Benefits of Growth Enhancing Pharmaceutical Technologies in Beef Production. By Alex Avery and Dennis Avery, Hudson Institute, Centre for Global Food Issues. 2007

Lessons from the Danish Ban on Feed Grade Antibiotics. Dermot J. Hayes and Helen H. Jenson. Choices 3Q. 2003. American Agricultural Economics Association.

Does Local Production Improve Environmental and Health Outcomes. Steven Sexton. Agricultural and Resource Economics Update, Vol 13 No 2 Nov/Dec 2009. University of California.

Environ. Sci. Technol. 2008, 42, 3508–3513. Weber.

Communal Benefits of Transgenic Corn. Bruce E. Tabashnik Science 8 October 2010:Vol. 330. no. 6001, pp. 189 - 190DOI: 10.1126/science.1196864

Farm Subsidies and Obesity in the United States. Julian M. Alston, Daniel A. Sumner, and Stephen A. Vosti. Agricultural Resource Economics Update V. 11 no. Nov/Dec 007 U.C. Davis

Greenhouse gas mitigation by agricultural intensification Jennifer A. Burneya,Steven J. Davisc, and David B. Lobella.PNAS June 29, 2010 vol. 107 no. 26 12052-12057

Clearing the Air: Livestock's Contribution to Climate ChangeMaurice E. Pitesky*, Kimberly R. Stackhouse† and Frank M. MitloehnerAdvances in Agronomy Volume 103, 2009, Pages 1-40

Comparing the Structure, Size, and Performance of Local and Mainstream FoodSupply ChainsRobert P. King, Michael S. Hand, Gigi DiGiacomo,Kate Clancy, Miguel I. Gómez, Shermain D. Hardesty,Larry Lev, and Edward W. McLaughlin Economic Research Report Number 99 June 2010

The environmental impact of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) use in dairy production Judith L. Capper,* Euridice Castañeda-Gutiérrez,*† Roger A. Cady,‡ and Dale E. Bauman* Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 July 15; 105(28): 9668–9673

''Diversity of United States Hybrid Maize Germplasm as Revealed by Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms.'' Smith, J.S.C.; Smith, O.S.; Wright, S.; Wall, S.J.; and Walton, M. (1992) Crop Science 32: 598–604
USDA Report- Government Payments and the Farm Sector: Who Benefits and How Much?

http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FarmPolicy/gov-pay.htm (accessed  May 2011)

USDA Report-Farm Income and Costs: Farms Receiving Government Payments

http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FarmIncome/govtpaybyfarmtype.htm  (accessed  May 2011)