A team led by University of Illinois researchers has created a new model that provides researchers and policymakers with a database to estimate location-specific emissions for all greenhouse gases related to the plant- and animal-based human food industries.
A new, location-specific agricultural greenhouse gas emission study is the first to account for net carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions from all subsectors related to food production and consumption. The work, led by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign atmospheric sciences professor Atul Jain, could help identify the primary plant- and animal-based food sectors contributing to three major greenhouse gas emissions and allow policymakers to take action to reduce emissions from the top-emitting food commodities at different locations across the globe.
The comprehensive study examined the four major subsectors for plant- and animal-based food emissions associated with food production processes, including land-use change, farmland management activities, raising livestock and operations that occur once the food leaves the farm from 171 crops and 16 livestock products across the globe. The consistent and unified data-modeling framework allowed the researchers to build an open-access database to estimate all global greenhouse gas emissions – CO2, methane and nitrous oxide – from plant- and animal-based human food. The study findings are published in the journal Nature Food.
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