Meat-free diet author admits farmers’ fears not covered by researchers

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Meat-free diet author admits farmers’ fears not covered by researchers


'The Lancet' wants farm subsidies to be redirected from dairy and beef to 'sustainable farming'. Stock Image: PA
‘The Lancet’ wants farm subsidies to be redirected from dairy and beef to ‘sustainable farming’. Stock Image: PA

ONE of the authors of a global report recommending meat consumption be reduced by 90pc admitted “we didn’t go into the consumer side and farmer side”.

The EAT-Lancet study proved controversial, particularly in countries like Ireland which are heavily reliant on agriculture.

Based on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes and nuts it discourages the consumption of red meat, sugar and refined grains.

Author Professor Jessica Fanzo will visit University College Cork (UCC) on Thursday.

She accepted the report had not addressed domestic concerns as an economy reliant on agriculture, especially against the backdrop of Brexit.

Prof Fanzo told the Irish Independent: “The report didn’t go into some important issues and it has been met with a lot of controversy.

“It was broad reaching but it didn’t go into economics, time-scale nuances and the context of different countries and social cultural issues of diets.

“But it did set out lofty targets for countries on what is relevant for us and asked what can we do.

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“We didn’t go into the consumer side and farmer side and what it means for the livelihood of farmers.

“We didn’t go into that but other reports have done that, for example the World Resources Institute had a report out a couple of weeks beforehand.”

She insisted: “We don’t want to eliminate animals from the planet, they play an important role in the economic system.

“There’s a kinship between animals and farmers but we can farm in a more sustainable way, reducing greenhouse gases, reducing manure management, increasing nitrogen use efficiency, managing land where animals are raised in a better way.”

The Irish Farmers’ Association and Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) were highly critical of the sustainable diet. ICMSA president Pat McCormack said the report had formed part of an “open season” on farmers.

The World Health Organisation dropped its endorsement of the diet recently.

It pulled out of sponsoring a launch event in Geneva, Switzerland, after Italy’s ambassador to the UN queried the diet’s impact on public health and potential economic hardship in developing countries.

Prof Fanzo, from the Berman Institute of Bioethics at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, US, warned “we are on such a short leash with climate change globally”.

“We are moving towards 2C on a world scenario and the acceleration of climate change impacts are so fast.

“The pace is alarming. We should have done this a decade ago,” she said.

“The clock is running out to make grand change for young generations, who are now rising up in the streets.”

Prof Fanzo will speak about the Irish scenario at the launch of the EAT-Lancet report in Ireland at UCC on Thursday.

Online Editors

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