The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has launched a new Web portal devoted to livestock welfare. Billed as a “one-stop shop for individuals and organizations searching for the latest information about the welfare of livestock,” the Gateway to Farm Animal Welfare is “designed to provide a reliable information conduit on legislation and research findings in the sector, as well as on animal-welfare standards, practices and policies.”

According to an FAO press release, expected users are farmers and government officials, lawmakers, researchers, the livestock and food industry and non-governmental organizations. The board members include a wide variety of individuals including Joyce D’Silva, who is former chief executive of Compassion in World Farming and is currently “co-editing a book on the adverse global impacts of high meat consumption.”

Read the news release.

The U.N.’s new animal-welfare Web portal will provide useful information about transportation, slaughter and pre-slaughter management, animal husbandry and handling, and the culling of animals for disease control. Those are all important issues since livestock production accounts for 40 percent of the value of world agriculture output and animals provide one-third of humanity’s protein intake. The U.N. is also concerned about animal welfare because animals contribute income, social status and security to about 1 billion people.

Regardless of how well-meaning the U.N.’s initiative on animal welfare, their views and policies for agriculture will be forever tainted by claims three years ago concerning livestock and global warming. At that time, the U.N. issued a report called Livestock’s Long Shadow, which claimed livestock production produces more greenhouse gases than driving cars.

Specifically, the U.N. report claimed that the livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of carbon dioxide deriving from human-related activities, and 37 percent of all human-induced methane, which has 23 times more warming potential as carbon dioxide. Many of those claims regarding livestock are disputed. For more information, read "Livestock's long shadow?" on  — Greg Henderson, Drovers editor.