EU Commission: ideological orientation

The European Commission seems to have an increasingly ideological and less scientific approach to meat production and consumption. The sad confirmation comes from its latest paper on “sustainable food”.

The European Commission recently published the paper “Towards sustainable food consumption“, instructing its group of advisors to develop scientific opinions and guidelines to overcome the obstacles preventing consumers from adopting healthy and sustainable diets. Reading the scoping paper in detail, many worrying contradictions arise that portend an ideological rather than scientific orientation.

In the paper, we read that “Socio-economic trends are leading to unhealthy and unsustainable food consumption with calorie-dense, nutrient-poor and ultra-processed food, sweetened beverages and increased global demand for fish, meat and other livestock products, contributing to overconsumption, obesity and other health determinants closely related to an increased risk of non-communicable diseases“. Meat, fish and animal products are categorised as “unhealthy and unsustainable food” without any scientific basis. In fact, the nutritional value of these foods and the concepts of “balance” and “balanced diet” is completely ignored, with their precise quantities, which are the basis of any healthy and sustainable diet.

So rather than a scientific position, it seems a preconceived choice, where it has already been decided which are sustainable and healthy foods and which are not, following prejudice instead of science. All the scientific community supports the great nutritional value of animal-source foods and that even foods with the worst nutritional intake can be included in adequate quantities in diets and lifestyles that are, in any case, balanced. Instead, the Commission omits that abuse and lifestyle contribute to health problems. This is a serious lack that is never left out by experts in nutrition precisely because they are well aware of the correlation between food intake, lifestyle and health conditions.

Also, about sustainability, the paper states that “Livestock production is associated with greenhouse gas emissions, animal welfare issues, impact on land use, air and water pollution, as well as development and spread of zoonoses and multi-resistant bacteria. EUROSTAT data indicate that a third of the EU population does not eat any fruits and vegetables daily. Overall, if European diets were in line with dietary recommendations (for example, by reducing meat consumption and adjusting the food portion size), the environmental footprint of food systems would be significantly reduced, even if national dietary recommendations do not necessarily take sustainability into account“.

#Meat, fish and animal products are categorised as unhealthy and unsustainable food without any scientific basis. In fact, the nutritional value of these foods and the concepts of balance and balanced diet is completely ignored. Click To Tweet

Here, meat and animal foods are also classified as unsustainable, providing no scientific explanation as to why they should be regarded as such in an absolute or relative sense. It would be appropriate to reveal the term of comparison and provide not only the environmental costs of production but also an assessment of the nutritional benefits. Here too, the Commission leaves no possibility of assessing food sustainability based on its actual production method.

They are categorised as unsustainable definitively, without contextualisation and without mentioning that the whole agriculture impacts in terms of greenhouse gases just 10%, of which livestock farming represents only a part.

The Commission takes no account of the fundamental nutritional role of animal proteins or the irreplaceable functions of livestock farming, such as the protection of biodiversity, the landscape and soil fertility. Livestock farming is responsible for the environmental impact, leaving aside other food production sectors, which are assessed as sustainable regardless of their production method.

It is dogmatically argued that reducing meat consumption would significantly reduce the environmental footprint of food production systems without providing any scientific evidence for these claims. The scientific advice of the working group’s advisors will contribute to the future review and implementation of the Farm to Fork strategy, supporting the European plan to combat cancer and promote change toward sustainability. Considering their importance, the issue should be analysed by examining the scientific evidence, while there are alarming prejudices against livestock farming, meat and animal production.

It is therefore suggested that the Commission be called upon to be more objective in obtaining evidence-based assessments by removing misleading examples and preconceptions from the scoping paper. The Commission should consider that the excess in the consumption of any food leads to disorders, dysfunctions and diseases and not their proper intake in adequate quantities. It is requested that the orientation towards healthier eating habits should always have the balance of food regimes as a guiding principle, without the need for supplements. It would be appropriate for the Commission to abandon the preconceived approach to food sustainability while respecting the principle that every food is sustainable according to its production method.

The whole #agricultureimpacts in terms of #greenhouse gases just 10%, of which #livestock farming represents only a part. Click To Tweet

Finally, the Commission’s views on environmental impacts should henceforth always be accompanied by the corresponding quantitative evidence assessing their actual absolute and relative size and clarifying their referencing.

Europe is considered by scientific literature to be where livestock production has the lowest environmental impact in the world. Conscious consumption and little or no impact are two recipes that must be preserved and not upset.

The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.