The experts listed some of the positive effects of livestock farming, including:
• The recycling of plants and the conversion of solar energy to animal products with high added value through the consumption of plants by herbivores;
• The numerous herbivore production systems which help to maintain sylvopastoral ecosystems, contributing to the sequestration of carbon and nitrogen derivatives, biodiversity and favourable management of water in the river side basins concerned;
• The contribution of these farming methods to maintaining an open landscape.
Food security and the important place of animals in society
Animal production is a major component of food security. Products of animal origin such as milk, eggs and meat contain precious nutrients and are an inherent part of any worldwide food security policy: worldwide demand for these products is rising and is set to increase substantially.
Livestock farming also supplies other essential non-food products, such as wool and leather, as well as important services such as transport (throughout the world some 250 million animals are working in place of fossil energy-based machines.)
Domestic animals also represent a means of subsistence with no feasible alternative for hundreds of millions of families around the world. It is estimated that one billion people, 700 million of them poor, are dependent on their animals for food, income or draught power.
Climate change and emerging or re-emerging diseases
Human impact on the environment and climate change are not without consequences for the epidemiological evolution of certain pathogens capable of causing animal and/or human diseases. We are currently witnessing an acceleration of the emergence or re-emergence of unexpected epidemiological events. For example, at least one new disease appears every year.
The OIE experts recommended investing even more in research to confirm or rule out causal links between climate change and emerging or re-emerging diseases.