Grass-fed beef isn’t as great for the climate as you think

Read the full story in Quartz.

For much of the past decade, it’s been widely reported that cattle are among the planet’s biggest climate-changing culprits. A 2010 reportfrom the Environmental Working Group showed that cattle release large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, greatly increasing the impact of meat on greenhouse gas emissions. Some ranchers and other experts, including ecologist Allan Savory, have countered that carefully managed grazing on certain land has the potential to sequester carbon in the soil, thereby reducing the amount that’s released into the atmosphere.

Tara Garnett, a food systems analyst and the founder of the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) at the University of Oxford in England, decided to test this theory. “Savory has quite a following,” said Garnett. “We wanted to find out if he was right.”

This narrow question is the leaping-off point of a new report, two years in the compiling, that seeks to clear up confusion about what Garnett calls “inflated claims” concerning the impacts of grazed-livestock production.

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