VEGA News Item

Lord Haskins Urges Radical Solutions on the Meat Industry - 19/02/2008
Speaking at the annual City Food Hall lecture, Lord Haskins has suggested that the only high ethical food ground, in the long run is the vegetarian one...
Speaking at the annual City Food Hall lecture, Lord Haskins “suggested the only high ethical food ground, in the long run is the vegetarian one, but he stopped short of advocating people stop eating meat” (Meat Trades Journal, 15 February 2008).

1. Lord Haskins directed his fire at the meat industry as he tackled the future of food production and global supply. He headed his lecture “Are Malthusian chickens coming home to roost?” He has been head of Northern Foods and acts as a government advisor. His audience comprised people from across the food industry. It was organized by 7 food-related Livery Companies, including the Worshipful Company of Butchers.

2. Lord Haskins suggested that meat and the livestock sector were “unlikely to be the solution to any global food shortage problems.” He said: “Animals are a very inefficient form of protein conversion. Animal by-products are a major cause of global warming. The conclusion one has to come to is that the only high ethical food ground is the vegetarian one, and that livestock farmers, including the whole organic movement, are not contributing to a solution to the problem. While not suggesting that the world should go vegetarian – it’s just that we should eat less meat than we do.” Responding to a question from the floor about what the food industry could do to encourage society to move away from eating meat, Lord Haskins pointed to price: “Meat has always been sold a little bit cheaper than it should be. If we raise prices to a proper level, it would have some impact on the amount consumed”, he said.

3. He advocated greater use of science and technology, in the form of GM crops, but also through engineering and technological advances. “Genetic modification is one aspect of bioscience that can both increase yields per hectare and reduce the environmental harm caused by existing farming methods”, Lord Haskins claimed in defence of the potential benefits of GM. He scorned “the folly of growing crops for energy production” and added that “nuclear power was preferable to energy from crops, unless new technologies could improve their performance.”

4. “Consumer behaviour also needed to change,” Lord Haskins observed. “We waste far too much food, energy, and goods, and we eat too much. This is where there is a common theme between ensuring global food security and combating climate change. Waste is the most unappealing by-product of a self-indulgent, Western consumer society.”

5. We regret that the report omits a copy of the menu the Livery Companies sat down to and we don’t know what leftovers the kitchen staff had to scrape off the plates.

See also: Cares for Snares. Let’s Get Them Banned  

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