Meat and milk should be taxed harder

23 February 2001

Meat and milk should be taxed harder

MEAT and milk have the greatest effect on the environment, and should therefore be taxed accordingly, believes an American ecologist.

Producing animal products such as pork, beef, cheese and eggs uses up far more resources than foods lower down the food chain such as chicken, turkey and fish, says Cornell Universitys professor of ecology and agricultural science, David Pimentel.

The report, in New Scientist, says the most efficiently produced foods are fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains.

Theory based on water use

Prof Pimentel bases his theory on the fact that it takes 100,000 litres of water to produce a single kg of beef, while the same amount of water can produce 100kg of grains.

Factory farms, in particular, use vast quantities of energy and natural resources, then produce large amounts of waste which they dispose of inefficiently.

He believes that food prices should reflect their environmental cost, so mammals and their products would be most heavily taxed, followed by birds, other vertebrates, invertebrates, fungi and other microbes, with legumes, grains, vegetables, starch crops, fruits and nuts lowest on the scale.

However, New Scientist also reports that the US National Cattlemens Beef Association has disputed the suggestion, adding that it takes 5700 litres of water to produce one barrel of beer. &#42

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