A U.N. report takes aim at the world's livestock industry but particularly singles out beef production, calling for the taxing of beef products as a way to decrease demand, thus decreasing the greatest threat to the world's environment and biodiversity, it says.

The 400-page report from the U.N. Food and Ag Organization, entitled "Livestock's Long Shadow," also considers sheep, chickens, pigs and goats, but points the finger mostly at the world's 1.5 billion head of cattle. It says consumers, "because of their strong and growing influence in determining the characteristics of products, will likely be the main source of commercial and political pressure to push the livestock sector into more sustainable forms."

The report -- read it online or download it at: www.virtualcentre.org/en/library/key_pub/longshad/A0701E00.pdf, says livestock are responsible for 18% of climate change, 9% of CO² emissions, 37% of methane emissions, and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions. The report concludes that without drastic changes, damage caused by livestock will more than double by 2050, as demand for meat increases.

"Beef has been identified as carrying the largest costs in terms of land and water requirements for its production, as well as in terms of contribution to climate change," the report says. "Since immediate changes in land and water prices for its production may be difficult to implement, governments may consider the option of taxing beef. Demand for beef would then decline relative to other meats and the pressure on both extensive grazing resources and feedgrain areas would be reduced."
-- Joe Roybal