by Brian Clark Howard of National Geographic News


Perhaps not surprisingly, not everyone is on board with that idea, either. Priscilla Feral, president of the animal rights group Friends of Animals, told News Watch via email, “When lemurs and bats are wiped out of Madagascar, do goats appear to feed children, or do plant-based diets provide the best means for feeding a hungry world?”

Despite their best intentions to avoid such conflicts, environmentalists often end up squaring off against those who say protection measures deny them jobs or other resources. Perhaps nowhere is this debate more heated than when it comes to Africa, whether the issue is malaria vs. DDT or GMOs vs. the precautionary principle. Among the most incendiary topics of all is starving children, and how environmental policies may be affecting them.

At first glance, a study released today from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, may seem to pile fuel on the fire, although News Watch spoke with one of the study’s authors, who urged a thoughtful and measured response. The research was published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study’s lead researcher, Christopher Golden, PhD, MPH, explained to News Watch that the group’s research in rural Madagascar found that consuming bushmeat had a measurably positive impact on children’s nutrition. According to a release, the researchers, “estimated that a loss of access to wildlife as a source of food ““ either through stricter enforcement of conservation laws or depletion of resources ““ would lead to a 29 percent jump in the number of children suffering from anemia. Among children in the poorest households, the researchers added, there would be a three-fold increase in the incidence of anemia. Left untreated, anemia in children can impair growth and cognitive development.”

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