Over 60 climate scientists, including Dr Jane Goodall, tell the EU: Stop promoting meat and dairy
This month, the European Commission will hold an official review of its agri-food promotion policy. Ahead of the publication of the first findings on 12 July, an international group of more than 60 scientists, led by Dr Jane Goodall, has called on the Commission to stop the promotion of meat and dairy.
The draft speaker schedule for the review includes many stakeholders from the meat and dairy industries, prompting concern over the presence of corporate interests at such a crucial climate-related event.
In a letter to the Commission, the scientists note that recent Commission policy documents such as the Farm to Fork strategy and the Beating Cancer plan formally recognise the urgent need for individuals to adopt more plant-rich diets.
In recent years, however, the Commission has spent nearly a third of its 200-million-euro annual budget for promoting agricultural produce on advertising animal-based products. Campaigns including Let’s Talk About Pork and Become A Beefetarian have been explicitly aimed at reversing a decline or maintaining growth in meat consumption.
Dr Goodall, who is a vocal supporter for plant-rich food systems, comments: “The European Commission’s recent food and cancer policies show it well understands the need for a shift away from animal products towards more plant-rich diets, but its policy for funding food ads doesn’t yet reflect this: it seems important that these conflicting messages be brought into line. We are calling on the Commission to reform its EU farm products promotion policy so that it provides support and incentives for the crucial shift to more plant-based diets in Europe. This will benefit people, animals and the planet.”
The scientists add that “a tsunami” of over-production and over-consumption of animal-based products in the EU is overwhelming natural systems. Almost 70% of EU greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from animal farming and much of the soya that the EU imports for animal feed is farmed on deforested land. The intensification of EU crop production in order to grow the concentrate feed demanded by industrial animal production leads to soil degradation, the overuse and pollution of water, and air pollution. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified processed meat as carcinogenic to humans and red meat as probably carcinogenic.
Jasmijn de Boo, Vice President of ProVeg International, said: “The European Commission’s policy of investing vast sums of money to promote meat and dairy products is utterly at odds with the need to shift to more plant-rich foods, as recognised by the Commission in its own Farm to Fork strategy and Beating Cancer plan. Collaborating with environmentally damaging corporations is like hosting a health review and letting the sugar industry make its case. It’s simply too late in the day for this kind of anti-climate lobbying. We need diet change, not climate change.”
Anna Spurek, from the Green REV Institute, stated: “The biggest reform we need to make today is the green transition of agriculture. The European Commission must support what is ethical, healthy and good for the environment. We do not have time for small steps, a slow move away from supporting industrial animal production. This is the time for bold decisions.“
The text of the letter and the full list of signatories are available here.
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Notes to editors:
- The scientists’ letter is addressed to Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, who is in charge of the European Green Deal, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides and Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski.
- Ethologist and conservationist Dr Jane Goodall, PHD, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, is considered the world’s leading authority on chimpanzees. She has worked extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues and founded the global wildlife and conservation organisation The Jane Goodall Institute.
- ProVeg International is an international food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultured alternatives. ProVeg is committed to help the food industry benefit from the transformation of the global food system. ProVeg has permanent-observer status with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is accredited for the UN Environmental Assembly, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award. More information is available at www.proveg.com.