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Contents lists available atScienceDirectGlobal Food Securityjournal the landscape of livestockFactsG.R. Salmona,, M. MacLeodb, J.R. Claxtonc, U. Pica Ciamarrad, T. Robinsond, A. Duncane,f,A.R. PetersaaSupporting Evidence-Based Interventions (SEBI), The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus, Midlothian, EH259RG, UKbScotland's Rural College (SRUC), West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH93JG, UKcInstitute of Biodiversity Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, Graham Kerr Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UKdAnimal Production and Health Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153, Rome, ItalyeGlobal Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UKfInternational Livestock Research Institute, PO Box 5689, Addis Ababa, EthiopiaARTICLE INFOKeywords:LivestockCommunicationFactsEvidenceABSTRACTThe role of livestock in supporting human well-being is contentious, with different perceptions leading to po-larised opinions. There is increasing concern about the health and environmental impacts of a high rate ofconsumption of livestock products in high-income countries. These concerns are heightened by an increase inconsumption in middle-income countries. On the other hand, livestock support the livelihoods of many people,particularly in low income countries. The benefits of livestock for poor livestock keepers are multiple, includingthe important role livestock play in supporting crop production in mixed systems, in supplying nutrients andincome, and in fulfilling cultural roles. In addition livestock can provide resilience against economic and climateshocks. In view of these apparent positive and negative impacts, the role of livestock in human wellbeing ishighly contested, with argumentsfororagainstsometimes distorted by vested interests or misinterpretation ofevidence. The Livestock Fact Check project, undertaken by the Livestock Data for Decisions community ofpractice, has investigated several ideas concerning livestock commonly taken asfact. By exploring the pro-venance of thesefactswe highlight their importance and the risks of both misinterpreting them or using themout of context. Despite the diversity of the livestock sector resulting in equally diverse viewpoints, the projectcalls for participants in the livestock discourse to adopt a nuanced appreciation of global livestock systems.Judgement of livestock's role in global sustainable diets should be based on clear and well-interpreted in-formation.1. IntroductionLivestock production makes a significant contribution to humanexistence; recent estimates suggest that the global biomass of livestockis twice that of human populations (Bar-On et al., 2018). Since livestockwerefirst domesticated, some 10,000 years ago, their production hasplayed a significant role in the development of civilisation (FAO, 2007).Recent decades have seen many programmes and investments to sup-port the development of livestock production. These include significantprograms in developed countries to modernise breeds (García-Ruizet al., 2016), the eradication of rinderpest disease globally (Roederet al., 2013) and increases in dairy production in India through Op-eration Flood (Cunningham, 2009). Simultaneously, there has been agrowing awareness of the negative consequences of livestockproduction. These include environmental damage (Steinfeld et al.,2006), poor animal welfare (Robbins et al., 2016), human illness due tozoonotic diseases (Gebreyes et al., 2014) and ill health due to a highconsumption of livestock products (Godfray et al., 2018), as well as therise in antibiotic resistance (FAO, 2016a). As such livestock sectordiscourse is increasingly of interest to the wider population (Stevenset al., 2018)(Fig. 1), and remains a contentious topic (Busch andSpiller, 2018).In livestock science, as with any scientific discipline, there are aminority of experts amongst a majority population of non-experts; bothaccess evidence relevant to their situations and choices (Bromme andGoldman, 2014). It is important that such evidence is well intrepreted.The impact of misinterpretation on society, in apost-truthera, isexplored byLewandowsky et al. (2017). An example impact is the 6 June 2019; Received in revised form 4 October 2019; Accepted 17 October 2019Corresponding author.E-mail Salmon).Global Food Security xxx (xxxx) xxxx2211-9124/ © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license ( cite this article as: G.R. Salmon, et al., Global Food Security,
decline in childhood measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinationfollowing communication of a singleflawed study in 1998, and themore recent rise in a broader anti-vaccination movement (Hussainet al., 2018). Genetically modified organism (GMO) food sources are anexample within agriculture. Despite scientific consensus suggesting thatthere is no greater risk to the environment or consumer health inconsuming GMO food than conventional food, GMO food is not globallyaccepted or utilised (Yang and Chen, 2016;Scott et al., 2018). Whilesome may oppose GMO with concerns that large companies may gainpower and influence over producers (Dibden et al., 2013); the debate isoften impervious to science and instead guided by emotional andmoralising rhetoric (Hielscher et al., 2016;Scott et al., 2018).Perceptions and opinions of the global livestock sector are not onlydiverse but are also becoming increasingly polarised (Busch and Spiller,2018). For instance, based on evidence concerning negative aspects oflivestock, the proportion of the population in high-income countriesfollowing vegan diets is rapidly increasing (Gill et al., 2018). With thesame evidence, some commentators call for a livestock-free world(Monbiot, 2017). Such a stance ignores the role livestock productionplays in supporting the livelihoods of large populations in low- andmiddle-income countries (LMICs) (Herrero et al., 2013a). By improvingcommunication and interpretation of livestock evidence, including bothnegative and positive impacts of the livestock sector, today's polarisedviews might be replaced by a more constructive dialogue concerninglivestock's role in humanity's future.Livestock Data for Decisions (LD4D) is a community of practice,with members from academia, NGOs, donor agencies and industry.LD4D's aim is todrive informed livestock decision-making throughbetter use of existing data and analyses(LD4D, 2019). This multi-dis-ciplinary community, seeing that livestock sectorfactsare regularlycommunicated without a full understanding of their provenance andvalidity, initiated a Livestock Fact Check project to identify and in-vestigate popularfactsrelating to important aspects of livestock sys-tems. This project encouraged dialogue to help ensure livestock pro-duction discussions and decisions are well informed, facts appropriatelyinterpreted, and gaps in knowledge and assumptions recognised. Thispaper summarises thefindings of the project's investigations.2. Investigating popular livestockfactsThe livestockfactsinvestigated by LD4D refer both to quantitativeevidence, such as a specific percentage or quantity, and to qualitativeevidence, such as a broad perception or understanding. Thefacts' to beinvestigated were identified by a multidisciplinary working group re-presenting the broader multi-discplinary LD4D community of practice.To help promote constructive community dialogue, effortswere madeto selectfactsthat represented key aspects of livestock production (e.g.economy, environment, livelihoods and health). While the methodol-ogies used to investigate eachfactwere variable, efforts were made inevery case to identify the origins of thefactsthrough interrogations ofthe relevant literature. Thefactsinvestigated are summarised in thefollowing sections.2.1. Livestock supporting the livelihoods of poor peoplePublications on livestock development have regularly quotedonebillionas being the global number of poor people supported by live-stock, typically to demonstrate the importance of livestock to humanity.In some instances this number is not given a reference (e.g.FAO, 2009);more commonly, a secondary source is cited (e.g.Thorne and Conroy,2017). Tracing back through publications referencingone billionsuggests that the original source is a study published in 1999 by Live-stock in Development (LID). The UK Department for International De-velopment (DFID) funded that study to examinethe case for investmentin the livestock sector as a basis for reducing rural poverty(LID, 1999). LIDcalculated that the global number of poor livestock-keepers was 987million (rounded up to one billion). For this calculation, LID used aglobal livestock-keeper agro-ecological distribution reported bySeréand Steinfeld (1996)and poverty statistics from theUnited NationsDevelopment Programme (1997). In turn, the livestock-keeper dis-tribution was based on 19911993 data from AGROSTAT (now FAO-STAT) and the poverty statistics used a composite poverty measurecited ascorrespondence on the Gini coefficientfrom the World Re-sources Institute in 1996 (no further information was available relatingto this correspondence). Consequently, the regularly quotedone bil-lionstatistic is based on a calculation using previous publications andstatistics, all more than 20 years old. Between 1999 and 2017, theglobal human population has grown from 6.1 to 7.6 billion (FAOSTAT,2019); growth is concentrated in LMICs and unlikely to slow in theforeseeable future (Gerland et al., 2014). Globally, there is net rural tourban migration, with a higher proportion of the population living inurban centres than in rural locations since 2007 (FAO, 2018d;FAOSTAT, 2019). Recent economic modelling suggests that for thoseremaining rural populations, particularly farmers, poverty is limiting,with economic growth suggested to be low or even negative (Castañedaet al., 2018; Laborde Debucquet and Martin, 2018). Additionally, theglobal definitionofpoorhas changed; the World Bank's one-dollar-a-day indicator, trackingthe share of individuals that have to live on lessthan an absolute minimum, was adjusted three times between 1999 and2015 (Klasen et al., 2016). Today, the number of people living inex-treme poverty, below the USD-1.9-a-day poverty line, is estimated tobe 731 million (The World Bank, 2019), which invalidates theonebillionpoor livestock keepers statistic. There are more recent calcula-tions to suggest livestock's significance in supporting the global poor(Herrero et al., 2009;Robinson et al., 2011); however, variation inmethods and applied data mean trends cannot be easily assessed. Ac-curacy may not be of high importance in certain applications of thisfact. For instance, the order of magnitude could be enough to com-municate that alarge numberof poor people depend on livestock, andtherefore livestock should not be ignored in future food security efforts(FAO, 2018c; World Economic Forum, 2019). Whereas to inform spe-cific investment and development actions (and monitor subsequentimpact) it would be useful to understand trends (requiring increasedaccuracy and a consistent methodology) in the importance of livestockat both local and global scales. Interestingly, more recent publicationsdemonstrate the need to give livestock development consideration bydrawing attention to the importance of livestock to stakeholders acrossassociated value chains, not just poor livestock keepers (WorldEconomic Forum, 2019).Fig. 1.Global trend in the use of Google search termLivestock. The y-axisnumbers 0100 represent search interest relative to the highest point on the20142019 chart. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term (whichoccurred in March 2019). A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular.Data from Google trends (Google, 2019).G.R. Salmon, et al.Global Food Security xxx (xxxx) xxxx2