'Technology is the answer - we're not going to shoot the cows'
Kiwi minister says beef genetics can lower emissions
Major agricultural countries including Ireland and New Zealand are developing the tools to help produce food at a lower environmental cost.
Minister of Trade and Minister of Climate Change Issues in New Zealand, Tim Groser, told the UN climate summit that scientists had developed methods to reduce methane from livestock, with different feedstocks also helping to curb emissions.
Mr Groser was speaking at an event organised by the World Farmers' Organisation and World Organisation for Animal Health, which looked at the role of agriculture from 2020 when a new climate deal is expected to be in place.
He said when the current deal, the Kyoto Protocol, was signed in 1997, just New Zealand and a small number of countries with high agricultural emissions were affected.
"During the first iteration of the Kyoto Protocol, only one country was seriously affected, mine," he told the 'Agriculture in post-Kyoto Protocol' seminar.
"Some 50pc of our emissions come from food production. Ireland and Denmark are also seriously affected. Until recently, I feel New Zealand has been a voice in the wilderness on the issue of mitigation. I'm starting to get the sense that people realise the issue of mitigation can't be ignored for a number of reasons."
He said around 14pc of global emissions arose from food production. The two biggest challenges facing humanity were ramping up production to feed a growing population, while addressing the challenge of climate change.
He said food security would "always" be prioritised over climate change, but that the agri-food sector had to be top of both challenges.