An author of the 2006 United Nations report claiming meat production is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than transportation, is admitting that the comparison is invalid in light of recent research by a U.S. scientist, according to the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).

University of California at Davis researcher Frank Mitloehner, publisher of the study, “Clearing the Air: Livestock’s Contribution to Climate Change,” says science hasn’t proven livestock are to blame for climate change.

Mitloehner blames the 2006 report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), for overstating livestock’s role in greenhouse gas emissions.

“This lopsided ‘analysis’ is a classical apples-and-oranges analogy that truly confused the issue,” he says. His findings were presented this week at the American Chemical Society conference in California, reported on by the American Meat Institute (AMI).

FAO policy officer Pierre Gerber told the BBC he accepts Mitloehner’s criticism.

“I must say honestly that he has a point – we factored in everything for meat emissions, and we didn’t do the same thing with transport,” he says.

It has long been the contention of AMI that applying these global numbers to the United States are misleading because the vast majority of global greenhouse gas emissions linked to livestock production result from deforestation and converting rain forests and other lands to crop or pastures. Those changes don’t occur in the United States, where total forest acres have increased in recent decades even as total agricultural production has increased.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported in 2007 that only 2.8% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions came from animal agriculture. This number has remained nearly constant since 1990, an impressive record with U.S. meat production advancing by almost 50% over the same time period, according to AMI.

“The fact that greenhouse emissions have remained nearly constant while industry production has increased shows that U.S. livestock and meat producers have taken responsible steps to protect the environment, such as improving feed efficiency, implementing better manure management strategies and using cropland more effectively,” notes AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle.