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Red Meat Scaremongering Will Not Tackle Emissions

06 April 2011
EBLEX

UK- Urging consumers to cut red meat consumption is not an effective way to tackle climate change, the European Commission has reaffirmed. 

During a meeting with EBLEX officials in Brussels last week, a representative of the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development emphasised that EU policy promotes healthy diets and has legislation to ensure food safety, but has not role in dictating what people should eat.

And João Almeida da Silva, of DG AGRI, also reiterated the position that fact-based information about the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of different production methods is better than “scare mongering about meat eating”. However, he said, agriculture still had an important role to play in tackling emissions.

The comments came during a series of meetings organised by EBLEX at the European Commission, covering climate change, the CAP, trends in beef and sheep production and the TSE roadmap. They were also just days before the Westminster launch of the Greenhouse Gas Action plan in which 16 organisations representing the agricultural industry in England, including AHDB, set out how the industry will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by three million tonnes of CO2 equivalents from 2018-2022 without compromising domestic production.

Research published by the EU’s Joint Research Centre of the European Commission earlier this year showed that the emissions from livestock were estimated to be responsible for around 9.1 per cent of all emissions in the Union – half of the much debated and oft-quoted figure for global agricultural emissions in the FAO Livestock’s Long Shadow report of 2006. Scientists who worked on the FAO report have since admitted that differing methodologies in the calculations compared to other sectors make the figure unreliable.

A review of the FAO report is due out later this year which could suggest that beef production, for instance, is more reasonably responsible for around three per cent of GHG emissions.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, of which EBLEX is a part, maintains an office in Brussels to sustain access at the highest level on debates which have an impact on beef and sheep producers in England.

EBLEX has produced two environmental roadmaps examining GHG emissions in the beef and sheep sector, as well as related issue like energy and water use, and suggesting practical ways in which producers can cut their environmental impact while improving financial margins. They can be found at www.eblex.org.uk/publications/corporate You can also learn more about the Greenhouse Gas Action plan at www.eblex.org.uk/news/GHGAP-launch

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