Meat: facing the dilemmas

The excellent Food Ethics published by the Food Ethics Council has devoted its latest issue to this theme. You can read excerpts online here. There are a lot of issues related to increasing meat consumption: climate change; health issues; water scarcity and biodiversity loss from clearing forests to make way for pasture and feed production; and animal welfare, which is certainly not a luxury we can no longer afford.

The FAO calculates that livestock account for 18 per cent of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Cows and sheep burp a lot releasing methane, which has a global warming potency 21 times greater than CO2.

In his introduction to the edition, Tom MacMillan suggests that ‘the challenge is not only to eat less but also to eat better meat – produced in more humane and environmentally sound production systems yielding a better quality product.’ Henry Buller reports in the issue from his innovative ‘Eating Biodiversity’ project on this theme.

I have not yet read all the articles, but what strikes me is that although there are plenty of references to the FAO and some to the OECD and WTO, the EU and the CAP are conspicuous by their absence. Surely the EU should be contributing to this debate and developing proactive policies that bring together a number of related objectives in different spheres of policy? Or is that too much to hope for?

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