The editorial ``Endangered Livestock,'' Dec. 30, says that saving animals like tigers and whales is only ``half of the species conservation challenge,'' and that we should also save older breeds of farm animals. But farm animals, old or new, cannot be the solution because they are a major part of the problem of species loss.
Livestock now outnumbers humans almost three to one; it consumes half of the world's grain harvest, and half of the earth's land mass is used for its production. As we are clearing the tropical rain forest for cattle production, we are annually destroying approximately 1,000 species. The ``changing agricultural needs'' mentioned will not require more genetic livestock material to tinker with but a return to plant-based food production for humans. This will improve human health and preserve habitat for countless plant and animal species. Livestock agriculture creates more water pollution than all other sources combined. It releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, drains wetlands, and creates deserts.
Livestock agriculture is the major ecological problem of our times, but one we can solve. The solution is not the preservation of this destructive practice but the recognition that we must eat lower on the food chain. Dietrich von Haugwitz, Durham, N.C.
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