Monthly Archives: February 2013

Debate: Cutting Australia’s meat consumption by half will be better for us and the planet

Cows at sunset

Image from istockphoto

These days, deciding what to eat is about more than just filling our stomachs. Increasingly we are asked to consider the effect that our food choices have on our communities and the environment, as well as ourselves. We are asked to eat foods that are produced sustainably, locally and ethically. “You are what you eat” has become “what you eat affects us all”.

Meat production is often targeted as having a large environmental impact. Different methods have been used to estimate the amount of water needed to produce a kilogram of beef varying between 500 and 50,000 litres, and methane emissions from ruminants are estimated to account for 10% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Just over half of Australia is used for grazing animals, with more used to grow feed for more intensively raised animals.

In 2009 Australians, on average, each chewed their way through nearly 108 kg of meat, just over 2 kg per week, and we are one of the top meat-consuming nations of the world with only approximately 5% vegetarians. By comparison, the British ate 84 kg per person and the Chinese about 58 kg per person. The average meat consumption in India per person for the year, the lowest in the world, was only slightly more than what we consume in a fortnight at 4.4 kg. Our meat-heavy diet has been associated with chronic health issues and there are many that question whether it is morally right to raise and kill animals for food at all.

Reducing meat consumption is often suggested as a way to reduce our impact on the environment. But if Australia as a nation decided to halve our meat consumption, what would replace it in our diets? Is Australia’s climate and geography suited to producing the large amounts of plant foods needed to feed us? Could the water we currently use to produce meat actually be diverted and used for another purpose? Would we ever be the nation that says “throw another veggie on the barbie?”

This debate, moderated by Dr Paul Willis, RiAus, will explore all these issues, as six experts in two teams argue for your vote.

When: Thursday 21 March 2013, 6.00 pm – 8.30 pm
Where: Lirra Lirra Cafe, Waite Road, Waite Campus

Finger food provided. A cash bar will be open throughout the event.

Admission is free, but prior registration is essential as seats are strictly limited.
To register to attend the event go to

To join the debate on Twitter, follow @waiteresearch and use the hashtag #agchatoz

Agricultural Sciences student numbers jump

Story orginally posted in News from the University of Adelaide, Wednesday 6 February, 2013

Agricultural Science students

Agricultural Science students

Interest in studying Agricultural Sciences at the University of Adelaide has significantly increased this year with both first preference applications and offers up more than 50% on last year.

“There are very good signs for a large increase in the numbers of students starting Agricultural Science this year based on offers and early acceptances,” says Professor Eileen Scott, Acting Head of the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

“This is good news for the local agriculture sector, which is crying out for skilled graduates in this area, and great news for our rural communities.”

Professor Scott said there appeared to be a combination of factors surrounding the heightened interest. “There is much better awareness of the large range of career opportunities that a degree in Agricultural Sciences can lead to,” she says.

“A lot of our graduates work with agricultural consultants, who are actively seeking out our students. Our graduates also work in banks, rural press, chemical companies, government departments and agencies, and local councils – they are in extremely high demand.

“There also seems to be a growing awareness of the need to look at new ways of feeding the world in the coming years. Many young people are interested in being able to make a difference in global issues.”

Professor Scott said moving past the drought years to a much more positive farming outlook may also be an important factor.

“The University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine has worked hard to get these positive messages across,” she says.

“Last year we had a strong presence at the Royal Adelaide Show, field days and schools where there was a lot of interest in our program.”

Other factors included revitalised campus activity and offering more work experience opportunities to school students.

“Our first crop of students from our new Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences program graduated last year and they are great ambassadors for the degree.”

There are still places available on the Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences. Please enquire with the University Contact Centre on 8313 7335.


Herbicide resistance seminar at Roseworthy Campus

The Weed Management Society of South Australia is hosting a seminar event on herbicide resistance and weed management featuring Dr Jason Norsworthy from the University of Arkansas and Dr Christopher Preston from the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus.

It will be held on Friday the 15th of February in the Richardson Theatre, Callaghan Building, Roseworthy Campus. The seminar event is free to attend

For more information (including a campus map) go to the Society’s Events page here

‘Darwin’s drop’: Using evolution to improve wine featured in latest e-Science

Darwins drop on iPad

The work by Prof Vladimir Jiranek and his team on using directed evolution to improve yeast fermentation has been featured in the latest issue of e-Science magazine.

e-Science is produced by the University of Adelaide’s Faculty of Sciences and is designed primarily for school teachers and students. The innovative magazine is designed for iPads and other electronic devices (including Android) and can be downloaded for free using links available on the e-Science magazine website.