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New Delhi: India and China are driving a global increase in meat consumption, although decreases in meat consumption are seen in certain parts, according to a study of global food consumption.

Another major finding of the research was the place of humans in the food chain.

The study published on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has analysed trends of what people eat in 176 countries to establish the humans’ place in the food chain. This is the first time that researchers have calculated humans’s trophic level, which is the position an organism occupies in a food chain.

The researchers calculated the human trophic level for each year from 1961 to 2009 using a data on 102 types of food compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.The metric puts plants and algae, at trophic level 1, and polar bears and orcas, on top positions at levels of up to 5.5.

The study says that humanity’s global median trophic level was 2.21 in 2009, which puts humans at the same position as omnivores, such as pigs, in global food web.

Analysing the changing consumption trends over the last 50 years, the researchers found an increase in fat and meat consumption, moving humans further up the food web, with the global median human trophic level increasing 3% during the period.

In China and India, the most populated countries, the study has shown marked increases in their trophic level. A group of 30 developing nations in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa including Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nigeria, showed Human Trophic Levels below 2.1 during the entire period. In China and India, however, the study has shown marked increases in their trophic level moving up from around 2.18 to over 2.2. Countries like Brazil and South Africa have shown an even more rise, from 2.28 to 2.33.

The researchers claim that these trends are significantly linked to World Bank development indicators, meaning there is connection between increase in meat consumption to positive developments in socio-economic, environmental, and health conditions and changing dietary patterns.

Research has shown that trends of rise in meat consumption will have major implications for the global environment due to the process of production of meat which involving use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and a cause for significant pollution. Researchers around the world are also accelerating efforts to develop synthetic artificial meat as worldwide consumption of pork, beef, poultry and other livestock is set to double by 2020.

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