The Food Standards Agency is ignoring the upbeat possibilities linking salutary consumption and salubrious farming, with expressions of good taste in all senses, raising standards in a harmonious alliance for health, animal welfare, the environment and wildlife.
We indict the FSA for overlooking the potential strength of this link and for becoming bogged down in the morass of evils perpetrated by the British live /deadstock industry. The costs of failures (and we can make topical comparisons with the fate and decline of most of the British motor industry) have been and continue to be enormous; opportunities opening up changes in the CAP, reinforced by the nutritional and medical concerns of a new set of specific risk materials, are not being exploited. A relevant article a month ago in the Economist named and shamed the familiar culprits in the epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease- sugar, salt, fat-and cited the demand for “ever-decreasing” consumption of meat and milk. The FSA must gird itself up to tackle this monstrous conjoined industry. Consequences of BSE and foot-and-mouth disease linger interminably. Threats loom from a pandemic of bird flu and of newly suspected zoonotic diseases such as Johne’s Lyme disease, and mycobacterium avian tuberculosis ( MAP)
(against which the conditions of pasteurisation of milk have been quietly stepped up). Meanwhile nutritionists and enlightened agronomists advocate development of diets drawn from portfolio exemplifying the promise in familiar changes-reductions in consumption of salt, sugar, fat and increased in fruit and veg, for instance- but always of advocacy for this “ever decreasing” consumption of meat and dairy-foods. We take these issues further.
The Nutrition Society’s annual Summer Meeting next month takes Plants and Human Health as its theme, one day of which concentrates on vegetarianism and the evidence from epidemiological studies in which we and colleagues are among the participants. Other organisations, if not the FSA, sense a change in the wind.
“The MLC meeting has taken steps to head off a food scare it believes is poised to strike in the UK” (Grocer 28 May 2005). Publication of research linking meat eating with colorectal cancer is believed to be “imminent” and “reports of the findings in the mainstream media could threaten booming sales” The MLC has taken the precaution of commissioning the British National Foundation to come up with an “objective” assessment of meat in the diet.(Earlier this year the MLC-backed British Meat Nutrition Education Service was launched to send out pro-meat message to the medical profession. The BNF is an agency sponsored by the food-industry).
An FSA webcast of the last open meeting of its Council (see news item below, 17th May 2005) records a recent protest from VEGA and the reception it received. The FSA’s indifference is, alas, not unique: where are welfarists who condemn the abuses on farm animals and the environment and can now endorse, reinforce, and exemplify by feasible consumer power reduction of an enormous toll? At an annual slaughter rate of 800 million animals in the UK alone, an initial salubrious decrease by 5 per cent of this national massacre would avoid the misery of 40 million animals a year and the all the mischief therewith. That’s really something worth demonstrating in resounding farm-to-fork good!