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Britain urged to eat more NZ lamb

Britons should be buying New Zealand lamb rather than their own homegrown product to combat global warming, according to United Nations scientists.

That is likely to please New Zealand farmers and go down poorly with their British counterparts, but neither will enjoy the advice that going vegetarian is better for the environment.

Better farming methods in New Zealand mean it is believed to be more efficient for it to be grown here and shipped around the world, rather than Britons eating their locally produce lambs.

"I don't think we'd be coming out in support of that measure, but we'd need to read the report before commenting on it," Britain's National Farmers Union representative Nathan Alleyne told the Daily Mail.

But scientists say growing food for food animals takes up far more land and emits more greenhouse gases than producing edible crops.

Last year New Zealand exported about $583 million worth of sheepmeat to Britain.

The advice against eating local sheepmeat coincided with a study by Britain's agriculture research organisation CGIAR.

It said food production, because of forest clearance, fertiliser production and transport, accounts for up to 29 per cent of man-made greenhouse gases, rather than the UN's estimate of 14 per cent.

CGIAR's Bruce Campbell says many countries could make big cost savings by cutting emissions.

The world's agricultural systems face an uphill struggle in feeding a projected nine to 10 billion people by 2050. Currently the population is just above seven billion.

Some farmers could be forced to make radical shifts to growing more heat-, flood- or drought-tolerant crops, such as yam, barley, cowpea, millet, lentils, cassava and bananas, CGIAR said.