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What are the environmental impact of food production?

Food production affects the environment in several ways. Below figure gives an illustration on some important environmental consequences that are directly or indirectly affected by the production of pork.

Figure 1. Some examples of the impact of pork production on the environment

The examples of impacts in Figure 1 are a result of the emission of different substances during the production phase. These impacts mentioned are called 'impact categories'. Each impact category is influences by the emission of several substances. Within agriculture and food production some important emissions are:

  • Carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuel for energy production (CO2)
  • Nitrogen leaching from agricultural land (NO3)
  • Phosphorous leaching from agricultural land (PO4-)
  • Ammonia volatilization from manure (NH3-)
  • Methane emission from enteric fermentation and handling of manure (CH4)
  • Laughing gas emission related to decomposition of nitrogen (N2O)
  • Sulphur dioxide from fossil energy use (SO2)

What impact categories do you think is affected by which emissions?