Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Does the 'Horsemeat Scandal' Have You Thinking Differently About What You Eat?

Greenpeace International

By Lasse Bruun

So while the horse meat issue has created a small earthquake for the food system, we need a seismic shift that will change the current broken food system into a functional one. Photo courtesy of Greenpeace

Over the past couple of weeks the "horsemeat scandal" has topped news headlines, revolted consumers and forced retailers and producers to come clean and revise their supply chains.

This is firstly a story of mislabelling, but mostly another insight into the untrustworthy and opaque food industry that is trying to cater to an ever growing appetite for cheap and abundant meat.

The scandal has once again put the spotlight on a broken food system geared to feed luxury food (meat) to already overfed people in the global North, while disregarding the environmental, biodiversity and socioeconomic problems associated with the livestock industry, let alone the dietary needs of the global South.

Today, the global North—countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe—is eating far too much meat and the so-called BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are rapidly catching up, fueled by the aspirational status eating meat projects.

The vast consequences of the large scale meat production and consumption has been described several times, most recently in a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) commissioned report, Our Nutrient World, which calls on the global North to halve its meat consumption.

As lead author, professor Mark Sutton puts it: "If we as Europe go for optimum consumption, not always the most of everything, it's going to improve health and benefit the environment. There's an optimum to be found between what's on your plate and helping the environment."

And the message is slowly starting to resonate with policy makers. The Swedish government, for example, has just proposed a tax on meat in an attempt to lower meat consumption.

Looking specifically at Europe, Greenpeace International has just released a report that explores how we can reduce livestock production and consumption to fit within ecological limits, such as biodiversity, climate change and water use. The report finds that if agriculture systems are ecologically optimised it will not only protect the ecosystems but play a key role in achieving global food security.

So while being a step in the right direction, cutting down on meat consumption as the UNEP recommends, is just part of the equation.

The nature of the production system is equally important. This coupled with the fact that just a handful of companies are dominating global food production, makes it a daunting task no stakeholder can take on alone. Policymakers, producers and consumers alike will therefore need to roll up their sleeves.

In order to feed the world equitably—now and in the future—eating meat like we do today in the global North is simply not an option.

So while the horse meat issue has created a small earthquake for the food system, we need a seismic shift that will change the current broken food system into a functional one. This would be a system based on ecological farming and have you and I cutting dramatically down on our meat consumption. While the first will be a gradual process, the latter can be started today.

Lasse Bruun, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace International

Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD page for more related news on this topic.

——–

Tell the FDA to Deny Approval of GE Salmon:

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Some speculate that the dissemination of the Antarctic beeches or Nothofagus moorei (seen above in Australia) dates to the time when Antarctica, Australia and South America were connected. Auscape / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

A team of scientists drilled into the ground near the South Pole to discover forest and fossils from the Cretaceous nearly 90 million years ago, which is the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
The recovery of elephant seals is one of the "signs of hope" that scientists say show the oceans can recover swiftly if we let them. NOAA / CC BY 2.0

The challenges facing the world's oceans are well known: plastic pollution could crowd out fish by 2050, and the climate crisis could wipe out coral reefs by 2100.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A schoolchildren crossing sign is seen in front of burned trees in Mallacoota, Australia on Jan. 15, 2020. Luis Ascui / Getty Images

By Bhiamie Williamson, Francis Markham and Jessica Weir

The catastrophic bushfire season is officially over, but governments, agencies and communities have failed to recognize the specific and disproportionate impact the fires have had on Aboriginal peoples.

Read More Show Less
Workers convert the Scottish Events Campus, where COP26 was to be held, into a field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP via Getty Images

The most important international climate talks since the Paris agreement was reached in 2015 have been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view of a crude oil storage facility of Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) in the Krasnodar Territory. Vitaly Timkiv / TASS / Getty Images

Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.

Read More Show Less