A lead United Nations agency overseeing food and agriculture policy is expected to issue a road map in the coming weeks that will call on the West, including America, to reduce its meat consumption dramatically.
Would YOU Eat Less Meat If They Asked You To?
The UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) will publish its so-called global food systems’ road map during the upcoming COP28 climate summit in Dubai which will kick off on Thursday and extend nearly two weeks until mid-December.
Proponents of meat restriction laws argue that roughly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by livestock farming and subsequent methane output, deforestation, and biodiversity loss.
They say, that rich nations are largely responsible for driving the demand in meat production, with Americans eating roughly eight times the EAT-Lancet Commission’s recommended amount of meat every year.
According to other studies, the U.S. agriculture industry only accounts for 1.4% of global emissions and 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
“The failure of leading meat and dairy companies to reduce emissions underlines the urgent need for more policy focus on the food and agriculture sector,” Jeremy Coller, the chair and founder of the FAIRR Initiative, an investor network that works with financial institutions to promote climate-friendly agriculture worldwide, said in a recent statement.
“Food system emissions deserve a place at the top of the table, alongside energy and transport, as they represent an estimated third of greenhouse gas emissions and 40% of methane,” he continued. “Investors hope the first-ever publication of a food and agriculture road map at COP28 this month will catalyze the transition to 1.5 degrees and a more sustainable food system.”
UN officials have reportedly advocated for a plant-based diet to reduce an individual’s annual carbon footprint by up to 2.1 tons, but researchers found that a vegetarian diet or switching to lab-grown meat could prove ineffective in improving global emissions.
The University of California, Davis, published a study reported by the Daily Mail earlier this year that indicated lab-grown or “cultured” meat produced by cultivating animal cells is up to 25 times worse for the climate than natural beef.
“Currently, animal cell-based meat products are being produced at a small scale and at an economic loss, however companies are intending to industrialize and scale-up production,” the researchers wrote. “Results indicate that the environmental impact of near-term animal cell-based meat production is likely to be orders of magnitude higher than median beef production if a highly refined growth medium is utilized.”
Although U.S. representatives for the intergovernmental organization have not pledged to join the delegation, the UN agency’s recommendations are not binding.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) said in a statement that regulating American farmers and ranchers out of business in the U.S would only export production overseas under hostile foreign governments, worsen emissions profiles, and harm food security and affordability rather than effectively addressing global climate change.
“Simply put, the world needs American farmers and ranchers more than the UN,” Thompson said, adding that U.S. farmers and ranchers are “climate heroes” for reducing emissions while providing Americans with abundant and affordable food, fiber, and fuel.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, farmers and ranchers are getting almost three times more out of their production than what they put into it compared to 70 years ago. The organization noted that livestock emissions, including pork, milk, and beef production, continue to decrease.