By no means let a disaster go to waste, they are saying. The Russian army invasion of Ukraine has instantly sparked alarmist statements from the animal agriculture trade in regards to the critical threats that this warfare will pose to meals safety in Europe and past.
Right away got here the calls to re-evaluate and even altogether shelve the environmental goals of each the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Methods.
Nobody denies that the brutal warfare in Ukraine will affect the provision of wheat, maise, sunflower seeds, and sunflower oil for each meals and feed to the EU and exports of EU agricultural merchandise, notably of meat to meat our Japanese neighbours.
However it’s past cynical to see that this battle serves as an excuse to delay or curtail the essential transformation to our meals system that’s urgently wanted to halt the lack of biodiversity and fight local weather change.
World warming is not going to abruptly decelerate and wait till the Russians lay down their arms. With out decisive motion to scale back greenhouse gasoline emissions and defend biodiversity, the affect on each folks and ecosystems can be catastrophic and irreversible.
The difficulty of meals safety is, after all, a delicate one. No-one needs to see meals costs undergo the roof, shortages of staple foodstuffs or folks, typically essentially the most weak, going hungry.
But one query is much more necessary now: how a lot of the cereals and oilseed that we produce and import is destined straight for human consumption.
In response to the European Fee’s information, round two-thirds of EU cereal manufacturing and 70 p.c of oilseed manufacturing is meant for animal feed – this isn’t almost sufficient to feed the billions of cattle which might be saved for meat, dairy and egg manufacturing within the EU.
We additionally complement this by importing thousands and thousands of tonnes of soybean meal yearly, primarily from the economic monocultures which have destroyed rainforests in Latin America. Round 95 p.c of those imports feed cattle quite than straight feeding folks.
Utilizing cereals and legumes to feed cattle is an extremely inefficient and wasteful means of manufacturing protein. It could take round 20kg of feed to make only one kilo of beef. Feed conversion charges range between species, however there may be nothing extra environment friendly than straight feeding folks with these plant-based proteins.
If we’re critical about defending meals safety, we needs to be speaking about prioritising meals for folks quite than feeding for the extreme numbers of cattle exploited for meals manufacturing.
My very own nation, the Netherlands, offers a shameful instance of how the intensive animal agriculture trade in a rustic can far exceed the meals wants of its populace. Certainly, the trade primarily focuses on export markets for its merchandise, reminiscent of pigmeat.