China’s livestock transition: Driving forces, impacts, and consequences

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Bai, Z., Ma, W., Velthof, G. L., Wei, Z., Havlik, P., Oenema, O., Lee, M. R. F. and Zhang, F. 2018. China’s livestock transition: Driving forces, impacts, and consequences. Science Advances. 4 (7), p. eaar8534.

AuthorsBai, Z., Ma, W., Velthof, G. L., Wei, Z., Havlik, P., Oenema, O., Lee, M. R. F. and Zhang, F.

China’s livestock industry has experienced a vast transition during the last three decades, with profound effects on domestic and global food provision, resource use, nitrogen and phosphorus losses, and greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions. We provide a comprehensive analysis of the driving forces around this transition and its national and global consequences. The number of livestock units (LUs) tripled in China in less than 30 years, mainly through the growth of landless industrial livestock production systems and the increase in monogastric livestock (from 62 to 74% of total LUs). Changes were fueled through increases in demand as well as, supply of new breeds, new technology, and government support. Production of animal source protein increased 4.9 times, nitrogen use efficiency at herd level tripled, and average feed use and GHG emissions per gram protein produced decreased by a factor of 2 between 1980 and 2010. In the same period, animal feed imports have increased 49 times, total ammonia and GHG emissions to the atmosphere doubled, and nitrogen losses to watercourses tripled. As a consequence,
China’s livestock transition has significant global impact. Forecasts for 2050, using the Shared Socio-economic Pathways scenarios, indicate major further changes in livestock production and impacts. On the basis of these possible trajectories, we suggest an alternative transition, which should be implemented by government, processing industries, consumers, and retailers. This new transition is targeted to increase production efficiency and environmental performance at system level, with coupling of crop-livestock production, whole chain manure management, and spatial planning as major components.

Year of Publication2018
JournalScience Advances
Journal citation4 (7), p. eaar8534
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as green open access
FunderNational Natural Science Foundation of China
Funder project or code31572210
Publisher's version
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online20 Jul 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted12 Jul 2018
PublisherAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Copyright licenseCC BY

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