Meat debate latest: Scots point to meat credentials
Published:  02 September, 2014

Following the latest attack on the meat industry’s environmental impact, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has responded by highlighting the “excellent sustainability credentials” behind Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI.

Jim McLaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), said: “It is vital there is clarity and good understanding of the very positive environmental message our industry in Scotland has to tell, to avoid confusion in the media and among consumers.”

The impact of meat has been a hot topic of late, with BBC’s Horizon programme ‘Should I Eat Meat?” causing a storm of opinion across the country and on social media, helped along by meatinfo.co.uk’s #meatdebate hashtag. Now, the BBC has picked up on Aberdeen University and Cambridge University research, which claims that “greenhouse gases from food production will go up 80% if meat and dairy consumption continues to rise at its current rate”.

McLaren continued to defend Scotland’s production: “Our traditional, extensive grass-based systems are based on free-ranging livestock, grazing at low stocking densities and eating grass and forage from land generally unsuitable for growing alternative food sources. This largely avoids the position in other parts of the world where protein suitable for human consumption is being diverted into livestock production. Grass and rough grazing account for around 80% of Scottish agricultural area and we have an abundant water supply.

“The reality is that livestock production is the only viable means of two-thirds of Scotland contributing to food production and the secondary benefits of rough grazing are to enhance and protect the valuable habitats of a range of animal and bird species, and protect Scotland’s carbon-rich soils.”

He also explained that red meat production is of the utmost importance to Scotland sociologically and economically, contributing more than £2bn and accounting for 50,000 jobs, many of which are in ‘fragile rural areas’.