Wanted: Meat for a Hotter Planet

Scientists search for more resistant livestock to feed global demand for meat
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2014 2:20 PM CDT
Wanted: Meat For a Hotter Planet
In this 2013 file photo, a cattle skull in the midst of a two-year drought.   (AP Photo/Jordi Matas-UNICEF)

Food scientists are on the hunt for livestock that can withstand heat—and we're not talking your Fourth of July barbecue. Rather, as the LA Times reports, they're looking for heat-resistant breeds that can be incorporated into American flocks and herds and thrive even as global temperatures spike. The stakes are intense, because the world's population is growing—and increasingly meat-hungry—yet rising temperatures could lead to everything from mushy turkey breasts to the decimation of entire herds of cattle: "We have to start now to anticipate what changes we have to make in order to feed 9 billion people," says one University of Delaware researcher with an eye on the 2050 global population estimate.

Some, like Bill Gates, don't believe that's possible. "There's no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people," Gates wrote recently. "Yet we can't ask everyone to become vegetarians." He advocates creating fake meat based on pea proteins. Others believe the answer lies in "more efficient" livestock that can withstand heat waves while consuming less water and feed. India's Brahman cattle, for example, do great in the heat—but not so well among picky consumers palates. So researchers have their eyes on a super breed that combines a Brahman's toughness with the taste of an Angus. Click for more on what would happen if Earth went vegetarian. (More global warming stories.)

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