UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said "Liverstock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," "Urgent action is required to remedy the situation."
In the FAO report, "Cattle-rearing is also a major source of land and water degradation"
"With increased prosperity people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year"
The global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector.
Livestock now use 30% of the Earth's land surface.
33 per cent of the global arable land is used to producing feed for livestock
As forests are cleared to create new pastures, it is a major driver of deforeststion, especially in Latin America where, for example, some 70 per cent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing.
"Herds cause wide-scale land degradation with about 20% of pastures considered degraded through overgrazing, compaction and erosion." the report said.
This figure is even higher in the drylands.
The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth's increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops.
The Union of Concerned Scientists and many leading environmental organisations have recognized that raising animals for food demages the environment more than just about anything else that we do.
In 2004-2005, all the wild animals and trees in more than 2.9 million acres of rainforest were destroyed in order to grow crops that are used to feed chickens and other animals in factory farms.
In a 2006 UN report, the livestock sector caused more greenhouse gases worldwide than the entire transportation sector. Nitrous oxide is about 300 times more potent as a global warming gas than carbon dioxide.
UN report cont'd "The meat, dairy and egg industries account for a staggering 65 percent of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency says the run-off from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined.
According to the UN report Chicken, hog, and cattle excrement have polluted 35,000 of rivers in 22 US states and contaiminated groundwater in 17 states.
It takes 16 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat. One average meat eater could consume that pound of meat during a meal, while 16 people could have been fed on the grain it takes to produce the pound of meat.
Animals raised for food produce 130 times more excrement than the entire human population - 86,000 lbs per second. Hence the meat industry causes more water polution than all other industries combined.
90% of all corn and 80% of all grains and beans grown in the US are used to feed livestock animals. 75 percent of U.S. topsoil has been lost to date. 85 percent of that is due to livestock rearing.
The livestock population of the US consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed more that 5 times its human population.
Every 2 seconds, a child starves to death somewhere in the world. Countries such as Ethiopia and some Central American countries use their garmland to supply the US with cheap burgers instead of growing healthful grain foods for their own starving people.
Fortunately there is something we can do - switch to a plant-based diet.
Excerpts from 2006 United Nations Report & WoodstockFAS.org
FAO Newsroom: Livestock a major threat to environment - Remedies urgently needed
FAO Spotlight / 2006 - Livestock impacts on the environment
UN News Center Report: Rearing cattle produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars
UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report
Livestock - One of Major Contributors to Environmental Problems
Meat is murder on the environment
European Vegetarian and Animal News Agency (EVANA)
You can't be a meat eating environmentalist - YouTube Video