Uppsala – Sweden

 

Social life cycle assessment of pig production systems

The share of agriculture in GDP and number of people directly involved in agriculture is decreasing. Consequently the proportion of citizens (and voters) with knowledge and experience of agriculture is also dropping. Society seems more concerned with environmental and social issues of livestock production than farmers’ economy. European pig farmers increasingly feel the pressure to transform their production to gain social acceptance. Furthermore, social aspects related to the farmer’s own work and life may influence young people’s willingness to become pig producers.

Different methods and models have been used to assess social acceptance but the reported results are difficult to compare, which makes it difficult for farmers and society to have global view of social sustainability. Social life cycle assessment (SLCA) is a rather new tool with guidelines developed by UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP). With SLCA different aspects can be assessed and related to a functional unit, such as 1 kg pig meat.

Despite its benefits, SLCA is still in its infancy in agricultural production systems, particularly livestock. We are developing a SLCA method that can use readily available data and at the same time be able to compare social sustainability of two or more livestock production systems. Our results will help society to embrace simple and verifiable assessments of social sustainability of agricultural production systems.

We are now identifying social aspects that should be included in the SLCA, based on literature and input from stakeholders. We are also testing a method to give relative weights to different social aspects, based on a questionnaire to stakeholders. Two existing pig production systems in Sweden will be compared.

Later on we will do environmental LCA of the studied production systems, and make a joint sustainability assessment including both social and environmental aspects. All things considered, we hope to show how genetic progress in feed efficiency and alternative feed resources can improve social as well as environmental aspects of pig production systems in Europe.

 

 

 

 

– Lotta Rydhmer

 

– Elin Röös

 

– Stanley Zira

 

– Emma Ivarsson

Related projects

Sustainable production systems for meat and milk, a PhD student project – Link

Future Food, a research platform at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences – Link