"Got rats?" Global environmental costs of thirst for milk include acute biodiversity impacts linked to dairy feed production

Juan J Luque-Larena, François Mougeot, Beatriz Arroyo, Xavier Lambin

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

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Bai et al. (2018) determined that China's increasing milk demand is expected to raise global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 35%, expand dairy land by 32% and lift nitrogen pollution by 48%. Producing the additional milk in China adds to the environmental cost of animal feed transfers (from 1 to 6.2 Tg of alfalfa), while importing the extra milk would disproportionately transfer environmental burdens to exporting nations. Bai et al. (2018) conclude that the more sustainable future for milk-thirsty regions will rely on improving domestic milk and feed production efficiencies up to the level of major milk exporters such as the European Union (EU), the current leading region in milk production (USDA, 2017). This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Apr 2018



  • Dairy feed (alfalfa) exports to Eastern markets
  • rodents damaging alfalfa and losses to farmers
  • rodenticide damages to biodiversity
  • rodenticide damages resonate beyond dairy feed producing regions through animal migration
  • overlooked environmental burdens caused by thirst for milk

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