Grow Me Some Petri Meat
Livestock has a major impact on the environment. Raising livestock takes up 26 percent of the Earth's terrestrial surface and feed crop uses about 1/3 of all the arable land. The expansion of grazing land for livestock is a major driver of deforestation. This is especially true in Latin America as it's suffering from rapid deforestation. 70% of the deforested land is being used as pasture and most of what is left is taken up by feed crops. Not only does livestock use up 8% of the worlds water supply but it is also the largest source of water pollution. I will address the often spun out of proportion CO2 problem behind livestock later. (not all tractors and not all fertilizer plants burn fossil fuels)
The good news is that Dutch researchers and NASA are competing to find a way to grow meat in the lab. They've already broken the first milestone by growing thin films of meat on a dish. The next step is to grow thick slabs and add fat for taste. If the technology pans out there are could be a lot of ethical, environmental and energy benefits from this process.
FAO, Spotlight / 2006, Livestock impacts on the environment
Reuters, Dutch try to grow enviro-friendly meat in lab, Fri Jun 1, 2007 1:14PM EDT, Reed Stevenson