Title: Nitrogen on the table: The influence of food choices on nitrogen emissions, greenhouse gas emissions and land use in Europe
Publisher: Centre for Ecology & Hydrology,
Publication Year: 2015
JRC N°: JRC76472
ISBN: 978-1-906698-51-5
URI: http://www.clrtap-tfrn.org/N-on-the-table
Type: Books
Abstract: This study was conducted by members of the Expert Panel on Nitrogen and Food in the Taskforce on Reactive Nitrogen on Reactive Nitrogen (TFRN). This group reports to the Working Group on Strategies and Review of the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution.1The aim of the panel’s work is: 5To investigate the effects of changes in consumption towards agricultural commodities with lower nitrogen footprints on consumer diet composition, and intake of proteins and saturated fats.To investigate the effects of dietary change with corresponding production changes on the emission of reactive nitrogen, as well as on other aspects such as land use, greenhouse gas emissions and 10agricultural production in general.A major driver behind the study is the understanding that more than 95% of the ammonia emissionsstem from the agricultural sector. Agriculture is also a main source of other forms of reactive nitrogen, such as nitrate and nitrous oxide. The TFRN has explored the possibilities and effects of a 15range of technical measures applied in agriculture to reduce emission of ammonia and other forms of reactive nitrogen. Over the past 20 years, much research has been done and techniques have been developed and deployed to reduce these emissions and improve nitrogen use efficiency in agricultural production systems. In other words, a great deal of attention has been paid to reducingemissions on the ‘supply’ side. In contrast, relatively little research has been done to look at 20‘demand side’ measures within the food system. This is the focus of this report.For practical reasons including the availability of data and suitable models, this study was confined to the EU-27. Livestock production consumption in the EU are tightly linked and EU livestock production is largely for European consumption with relatively little trade across the EU’s border. 25Because protein contains about 16% nitrogen, food production and consumption and the nitrogen cycle are intrinsically linked. Protein production is linked either directly or indirectly to ammonia polluting air, nitrate and other nitrogen compounds polluting water, and nitrous oxide which is a trace gas with a global warming potential of 298, compared with CO2. The recent ENA report 30presents a thorough overview of the effects of nitrogen emissions on the environment.2To support primary protein production in crops, European agriculture uses 11.2 million tonnes of mineral fertiliser N. In addition, the provision of animal protein in Europe requires supplies of high protein soy meal.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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