Tuesday, 4 June 2013

eat less meat or face food shortage

The Commons international development committee said farmers should rear more animals on grass because livestock is land and energy intensive and grain should be saved for humans.

This is what it said in this Daily Mail article. This is what I have been saying all along. The farmers seem to be up in arms about this statement. Nobody is saying that we shouldn't use land that can't be used to grow grain or other crops to grow grass for cattle or sheep. We're saying that we shouldn't import vast quantities of maize and soya to feed cattle, pigs and chickens. We should be eating more grain and pulses ourselves.

The article also said:-

The committee raised concerns about the impact of biofuels – derived from plants such as sugar cane and maize – on the environment and on food prices.

Vast swathes of agricultural land are set aside to grow fuel crops, pushing up the price of staple goods. By law, at least 5 per cent of petrol and diesel sold on British forecourts must be biofuel.

The MPs called on ministers to consider using domestic stockpiles of food to protect against price hikes.

As well as claiming grain should be fed to humans instead of animals, vegetarians and green activists tell steak lovers livestock farming is a major source of harmful greenhouse gases.

At the end of the article it mentions the Cranfield University research that seems to show that meat substitutes are not better than meat. I've looked at this research and it doesn't seem to make sense. It seems to be saying that if British people eat more soya, chickpeas and lentils then, because they are grown abroad, more land abroad has to be cultivated. So maybe forests abroad will have to be cut down to grow soya etc.

This seems to me to be complete nonsense. What we are saying is that vast quantitites or maize and soya are grown abroad and used to feed farm animals. If we eat less meat, then most of the maize and soya that is grown abroad will be available for human consumption. We could use that land for other crops too, such as chickpeas and lentils, and also farm less intensively. No extra land would be needed.

I'm annoyed with farmers and Cranfield University with trying to muddy the waters here. This is an issue of the global food supply and personal health. It's as if they want people to believe that when British people go to the supermarket and buy meat it will come from an animal that will have grazed on a Welsh hillside or something. The reality is that most farm animals are fed on maize and soya grown in tropical countries. If we used that soya for tofu instead of feeding animals then we would need LESS cultivated land and not MORE.

Another recent Daily Mail article says that recent research shows that vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters. That doesn't necessarily mean that vegetarianism causes good health because it is a correlation not cause-and-effect, but it makes the vested interests of the farming lobby seem even more immoral in their attempts to make people believe that British meat is all natural and healthy.

In any case, the Cranfield University 'research' is talking about the value of meat substitutes. People don't need to replace meat with a substitute. They don't need as much protein as they think they do. I could agree with the statement below, found here.

Donal Murphy-Bokern, one of the (Cranfield University) study authors and the former farming and food science co-ordinator at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “For some people, tofu and other meat substitutes symbolise environmental friendliness but they are not necessarily the badge of merit people claim. Simply eating more bread, pasta and potatoes instead of meat is more environmentally friendly.”

No comments:

Post a Comment