“Stop funding meat and dairy ads”
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There is an urgent need to shift to more sustainable plant-based diets. That’s the message of a new letter signed by renowned environmentalist Dr Jane Goodall and more than 60 other leading scientists. To encourage this change, scientists say we need to end funding for ads promoting foods of animal origin.
A group of international scientists are urging the European Commission to stop funding feed ads. Addressed to European Green Deal vice-president Frans Timmermans, the letter says a shift towards healthy and climate-friendly food is needed.
âWe call on the European Commission to reform the EU’s promotion policy for agricultural products,â the letter read. “To provide support and incentives for the crucial shift to more plant-based diets in Europe, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet.”
[The E.U.] understands the need to abandon products of animal origin in favor of a diet richer in plants. But its food advertising funding policy does not yet reflect this.
Global scientists and experts: eat more plant-based
The signatories of the letter included some of the most prominent names in the fields of biodiversity, climate and health. Among them were Dr Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist and environmentalist and United Nations Messenger of Peace.
âThe European Commission’s recent policies on diet and cancer show that it understands the need to move away from animal products in favor of a diet richer in plants,â said Goodall. “But its food advertising funding policy does not yet reflect this.”
Goodall has previously called for a widespread shift to plant-based diets for the benefit of mankind and animals.
Marc Abraham, the television broadcaster and veterinarian known as “Marc the vet” also signed the letter. Other names include University of Sussex biology professor Dave Goulson and sustainability science expert at the Global Systems Institute in Exeter, Dr James G Dyke.
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A tsunami of overproduction and overconsumption of animal products in the EU has overwhelmed nature.
Jane Goodall and 60 other top scientists
70% of the EU’s agricultural footprint comes from animal agriculture
Agriculture accounts for more than 10% of Europe’s carbon emissions, and at the center of this is livestock. Scientists have pointed out that animal agriculture in the EU accounts for 70% of its agricultural emissions. The sector is also responsible for 68% of the region’s agricultural land use.
âA tsunami of overproduction and overconsumption of animal products in the EU has overwhelmed nature,â they wrote. âThe land use change associated with these activities is the most common driver of biodiversity loss. The intensification of crop production for the concentrated feeds required by industrial animal production leads to soil degradation, overexploitation and pollution of water and air pollution.
Despite the bloc’s previous pledges to improve food sustainability, little has been done to discourage people from eating high-carbon foods. In fact, the Commission has spent almost a third of its annual budget of â¬ 200 million for agriculture on advertising animal products.
“This policy must be reformed so that it supports public health, environmental protection and animal welfare instead of endangering them,” the scientists urged.
Health Risks of Eating Meat
In addition to harming the environment and wildlife, eating too much animal products has negative consequences for human health. Scientists have cited evidence linking high consumption of red and processed meat to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and some cancers.
Even the European farm-to-fork strategy notes the negative impacts of high meat consumption. He estimates that up to 950,000 deaths and more than 16 million healthy years of life lost in 2017 were “attributable to unhealthy diets, mainly cardiovascular disease and cancer.”
The plan also recognizes that “switching to a more plant-based diet with less red and processed meat and with more fruits and vegetables will reduce the risk of fatal diseases.”
Previously, leading health professionals wrote a letter calling for an end to funding for factory farms given their role in feeding zoonotic pandemics as well.
Main image courtesy of the Jane Goodall Institute.