Letter: Scientists must answer for BSE

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The Independent Online
Sir: You are quite right to point out that intensive farming methods are threatening both our environment and our health (leading article, 14 February).

The world's livestock herds are accelerating erosion and desertification as vast areas of forest are cleared and used for grazing cattle. In the United States alone, 85 per cent of topsoil loss is attributed to livestock ranching.

In addition an average 25 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of wheat, but 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of meat. As your newspaper recently pointed out, there is a world shortage of water.

An acre of cereal can produce five times more protein than an acre devoted to meat production; and legumes (beans, lentils, peas) can produce 10 times as much. Thus the greater the human consumption of animal products, the fewer people can be fed.

Intensive farming is bad for humans, bad for the environment and bad for animals.