Cutting meat consumption could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a study published Wednesday maintained, as it urged meat eaters to cut back and theagriculture industry to change its ways. burgher

The study, published in the prominent U.K. journal The Lancet, said one-fifth of total worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are caused by agricultural production.

About 80 per cent of emissions come from the production of meat, including through the transport of livestock and feed, mostly from methane emitted by animal's flatulence.

The study by Tony McMichael of the Australian National University in Canberra and John Powles of Britain's University of Cambridge said that, realistically, global consumption of red meat could be reduced by 10 per cent.

Theglobalaverage meat consumption stands at 100 grams per person a day, but varies widely between countries. Citizens of developed countries consume about 200 grams per person a day, while those in poorer countries eat around 20 grams.

Those in developed countries should progressively decrease their daily intake to90 grams by 2050, the researchers said.

"If people are already thinking about the need to ration air travel maybe they need to think also about rationing their meat consumption," said Powles.

Powles said those in theagricultural industry also need to commit to lowering emissions.

"Clearly there's going to need to be incentive structures put in place for them to adopt methods of production that minimize the release of greenhouse gases," said Powles.

But some farmers, such as Eric Butters, bristled at the suggestion, sayinghis industry is being unfairly targeted.

"It's not too many cattle that's hurting the environment, it's too many people," said the cattle farmer from southern Alberta. "And if we controlled our population growth and parked our SUVs, it'd be far more environmentally beneficial."

The report's authors said they hope leaders in developed countries will take their recommendations seriously.