Carbon data insufficient to support ‘eat less meat’ argument, finds APPG

A lack of robust scientific data makes the “eat less meat to save the planet” argument too simplistic and lacking credibility, according to a parliamentary report.

The report is the result of a four-month inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Beef and Lamb and it said more robust scientific data and a standard model to measure carbon sequestration was needed to allow both policy-makers and industry to deal with the challenges of producing food in a sustainable way.

The group, chaired by Conservative MP Neil Parish, took written and oral evidence from industry and environmental groups and has concluded that more work was needed to define the carbon footprint of meat production to allow informed debate and help generate policies.

Parish said: “Debate on the subject of the industry’s environmental impact often centres around carbon footprint. However, what our inquiry has revealed is that the understanding of what makes up the carbon footprint of grazing livestock is not very deep at all. This is alarming, given the seriousness of issues we face – namely food security and environmental sustainability.

“Currently, we are not fully able to quantify the carbon footprint of red meat or the foodstuffs that some would seek to replace meat with. As such, the ‘eat less red meat to save the planet’ message is far too simplistic to be credible at this stage and lacks the scientific grounding to be robust.”

The report has been welcomed by meat industry leaders. Nick Allen, director of Eblex, said: “The report makes the important point that the argument of ‘eating less red meat to save the planet’ simply lacks the scientific robustness to be credible. While it doesn’t go into the intricacies of the carbon footprinting debate, it does highlight that more robust scientific evidence and data is required in order to move the debate forwards constructively.
“Bringing these issues concerning the debate on livestock’s environmental impact to the fore are to be welcomed and Eblex will continue to work with the industry to address them.”