Follow Us:

Energy Flow, Environment and Ethical Implications of Meat Production


Robert A. Kanaly, Lea Ivy O. Manzanero, Gerard Foley, Sivanandam Panneerselvam, Darryl Macer. 2010. Energy Flow, Environment and Ethical Implications for Meat Production. Bangkok, Regional Unit for Social and Human Sciences in Asia and the Pacific (RUSHSAP), UNESCO Bangkok. vi + 55 pp.

ISBN 978-92-9223-347-1 (Print version)
ISBN 978-92-9223-348-8 (Electronic version; PDF file - 1,07 MB)

Meetings of this Working Group were held: UNESCO Conference "Ethics of Energy Technologies: Energy Flow, Environment and Ethical Implications for Meat Production" 24 July 2008, UNU-IAS, Yokohama, Japan [Draft rogramme (pdf file) and Meeting report (pdf file)]; and 5 December 2009, Yokohama, Japan; 

The following is a list of current working group participants:

Dr. Robert Kanaly (co-chair): rkanaly[at]
Ms. Lea Ivy O. Manzanero (co-chair): leaivy.manzanero[at]
Dr. Jayapaul Azariah: jazariah[at]
Dr. Tamara Kudaibergenova: ahtamar[at]  
Dr. Darryl Macer: d.macer[at]
Dr. Firuza Nasyrova: firuza_nasyrova[at]
Professor Panneerselvam Sivanandam: sps[at] 
Mr. Keisuke Tachiyama: keisuke.tachiyama[at]
Dr. Atsushi Tajima: tajima[at]
Mr. Abdul Latif bin Haji Sani: latif_sani[at]
Mr. Gerard Foley: g.foley[at]
Dr. Bagarinao Teodora, U.: dorisb[at]

If interested in joining the working group, or participating in a meeting, please send an email to: and  


Executive Summary


Meat production is a complex and multifaceted issue that is deeply connected to matters of environment, politics, public health, economics, socioeconomics, and ethics. It is estimated to account for half of the global greenhouse gas emissions, thus being a very significant issue in climate change. Future projections for the consumption of meat through 2050 indicate that an increase in demand by all countries will occur with the most significant increases projected to occur in the developing countries, especially in Asia. Countries that are considering creation, expansion, or integration of more intensive or industrialized modes of meat production into their current systems may want to consider the possible future environmental, energy, water, public health and socioeconomic effects of their investments, especially in the context of global discussion on climate change.

In the developed countries, it is understood that the perceived successes of intensive meat production systems have been largely dependent upon the availability of relatively cheap fossil fuel energy as a foundation for their various models of production. In addition to cheap fossil fuel energy dependence, accumulating evidence indicates that these operations often result in numerous negative externalities that have serious and wide-ranging environmental, socioeconomic and public health consequences. At the same time, many of the negative cost externalizations are necessary for the success of intensive operations under current economic values. The societal implications of intensive animal production are also addressed.

This report1 presents evidence from the Philippines, United States, Japan and other countries to describe the situation and it is concluded that it may be prudent for both developing and developed countries to review carefully the costs of intensive meat production before promoting and investing in such operations. At the same time consideration of progressive and more sustainable approaches to energy efficient food production, decreasing subsidization practices, and movement towards internalizing more of the production costs shall be necessary.

An ethical analysis of principles associated with use of animals in intensive meat production is also presented and, while recognizing a right to adequate access to food – that all people should be free from chronic hunger, should be free from food insecurity and should have access to safe food of nutritional value, the report also includes examination of the perspectives from the point of view of animals and the environment. There are a range of policy options considered that countries may consider, including several internationally developed codes of good practice and codes of ethics that can improve the immediate situation for animal, environmental and human health in intensive animal production systems. There is also a call for reflection on the broader issues raised in the report by each institution and nation.

Background papers: David Fraser, Animal welfare and the intensification of animal production: An alternative interpretation (Rome: FAO 2005) and FAO ETHICS SERIES 3, The ethics of sustainable agricultural intensification (Rome: FAO 2004); Henning Steinfeld, et al., Livestock's Long Shadow, Environmental Issues and Options (Rome: FAO 2006).

This page was last updated on 30 June 2011