Critics Argue It Threatens Food Security and Economy
A resolution introduced in the House of Representatives expresses strong opposition to a United Nations recommendation that calls for reducing meat consumption in global food systems. The resolution, put forth by Representative Flood, emphasizes the importance of meat and livestock production to the US economy and disapproves of the use of federal resources to support efforts to decrease meat consumption.
The UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) is preparing to release its global food systems’ road map, which reportedly includes a call for Western nations, including the US, to shift towards plant-based foods and away from meat. Flood and other critics argue that such a recommendation poses a threat to global food security and fails to consider the emissions reductions achieved by the agriculture industry and American beef producers.
Ethan Lane, Vice President of Government Affairs, stated, “Reducing beef consumption in the U.S. is not a realistic or impactful solution for climate change. America’s beef producers and consumers around the globe deserve real solutions to the climate issue, not artificial barriers to protein consumption that will do nothing to solve the world’s climate issues.”
Concerns over Food Security and Economic Impact
The resolution’s critics highlight potential consequences such as limited consumer choice, higher food prices, and the disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations already at risk of malnutrition. They argue that reducing high-quality animal protein, particularly beef, could exacerbate malnutrition worldwide and harm those who cannot afford more expensive alternatives.
The global food system, including agriculture, production, packaging, and waste management, accounts for approximately 34% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to a study published in the Nature Food journal. Livestock alone is responsible for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, in the US, agriculture contributes just 10% of emissions, making it the country’s lowest-emitting economic sector.
Beef cattle in the US specifically contribute less than 0.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and only 2% of the nation’s emissions. This data suggests that focusing solely on reducing beef consumption is not an effective or impactful solution to address climate change.
The FAO asserts that its global road map aims to accelerate climate actions to transform agrifood systems while addressing food security and nutrition challenges. The organization emphasizes the need for innovative solutions to meet climate goals without compromising food security or breaching the 1.5 degrees threshold.
As the debate continues, stakeholders on both sides urge a comprehensive approach to climate change that considers the complexities of the global food system, consumer preferences, and the economic implications of any proposed dietary shifts.