Reducing food waste should be the primary focus when it comes to mitigating the effects of climate change due to food production, says Edmond Phelan, President of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).
“One third of food produced is wasted; it stands to reason that the focus must be on what you waste, not on what you eat. Blaming sustainably produced beef and lamb for the potential demise of the planet is wrong,” he said.
“Even the IPCC admits that natural land processes which reflect current agricultural systems absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry.
“So, it is dangerous nonsense to advocate massive disruption of current livestock systems. In addition, there is a lot of potential to better utilise current systems of agriculture in the production of biomethane and crop-based biofuels without imposing extreme vegan solutions.”
Mr Phelan comments follow the publication of the UN IPCC’s ‘Climate Change and Land’ report last week.
“In addition, the spotlight needs to be shone on irresponsible deforestation, as opposed to responsible land use. The rate of deforestation in the Amazon region is accelerating exponentially and is irresponsible in the extreme.
“Unstopped, this will cause far more long-term damage than any amount of responsibly produced grass-fed beef and lamb.”
“It is also important to remember that people must be fed, and populations are growing. To this end, efforts should be put into helping farmers not multi-nationals who are investing billions in highly processed foods, which are far more damaging from a climate perspective.”
Mr Phelan also took aim at alternative plant-based food companies who are investing billions in ultra-processed plant-based foods. “They are hijacking the climate change debate by bad mouthing sustainable grass based red meats in order to make more profit from plant and lab produced products.”
“All of this misguided focus on unworkable and unprecedented dietary change is letting fossil fuel and aviation sectors off the hook. When you have 225,000 airplanes in the sky on one day, it is a complete parody to target healthy livestock products,” he said.