With the Israeli elections imminent, it is well to consider the issue of public policy and food. For instance, the Green Movement, as Israel’s green party has recently joined Tzipi Livni’s HaTnuah party and considers regulation of food production to be a significant componet in improving the country’s environmental policies. Livni, herself a vegetarian since age 12, will be convening a gathering of vegetarians next week to highlight areas where a more sustainable food policy should be pursued.
There are two underlying motivations behind the necessary policy reform. Environmentally, the pollution produced by agricultural operations, particularly from livestock is enormous. Six years ago, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the international meat industry produces18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, even more than transportation. The contribution of pesticides and fertilizers to water pollution is well known. In a recent long-term study of Israel’s stream, a research team I headed found that non-point source pollution, largely from agricultural sources, were the primary contributor of pollutants to Israel’s streams, rather than industry or even sewage.