Environmentalists and scientists: stop EU funding for meat ads

In a report published in April 2021, Greenpeace drew attention to the specific divisive character the EU has been offering for years when it comes to approaching meat. Although the farm-to-fork strategy has been announced as part of the European Green Deal, assuming the pursuit of organic and sustainable agriculture and the promotion of a healthy diet based on plant foods, the EU budget devoted to promoting meat and dairy is absurdly high. Only in 2016-2019, the Union spent about 252.4 million euros, which is 32% of the total budget allocated to the promotion of agricultural products. However, only 19% was allocated to promoting fruits and vegetables and 9% to projects related to organic products.

Read also: “Peak meat” is approaching. Demand is declining and prices are rising

Meanwhile, initiatives funded from the EU budget appear to be in sharp conflict with its environmental and climate goals. Last year, Brussels decided to cover up to 80% of the budget for the “Become a Beefatarian” campaign to promote beef produced in France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Spain, allocating up to 3.6 million euros. It is difficult to understand support for a similar campaign, given the catastrophic impact of beef production on the environment – for every kilogram of meat up to 60 kilograms of greenhouse gases are produced, while about 15,000 liters of water are used.

The promotion of beef is also at odds with the promotion of a healthy diet among European consumers, as red and processed meats have been classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization. In this case, the voices of NGOs are justified, as they appeal to the European Commission to stop subsidizing an industry whose activity is based on the destruction of the environment and to provide consumers with products that may be harmful to health. “We recommend reviewing existing policies on this and possibly redirecting these funds to promoting plant foods with low environmental impact,” he says. Marcin Tischner, sustainable development specialist at ProVeg Polska and expert at the Climate Alliance. On social media, the Green REV Institute is also calling for support for the ban on meat promotion, and running a campaign under the #StopEUMeatAds banner.

Krzysztof Cibor from Greenpeace emphasizes that in Europe we produce and eat a lot of meat, which has negative effects not only on health, but also on the environment and climate. This knowledge is starting to get to people, so we are seeing a slow decline in meat consumption for some time. This is what the emperors of the meat industry noticed. Some of them save their business through advertisements to convince them that eating meat is healthy and trendy. Obviously, there would be no surprise, were it not for the fact that we all make such advertisements! “ – Says Sibur. “It is even worse in Poland – at 59%. The money the European Union has allocated to the promotion of agricultural products, Poland has spent on advertising meat and dairy products, and only 28 percent. To promote fruits and vegetables. It is against common sense and scientific recommendations”- He adds.

Małgorzata Szadkowska, Head of Compassion at World Farming Polska and expert on Climate Alliance, points to the harm of meat production. “We have created a system of cheap meat and milk production, which is paradoxically harmful to us: it deepens social injustice, harms the environment and destroys our health. The recognized medical journal The Lancet, after analyzes from more than 190 countries, issued a statement that an unhealthy diet contributes to greater global burden of disease and a greater risk of morbidity and mortality than unprotected sex, alcohol, drugs and tobacco” – says Szadkowska.

Scientists are also calling for the resignation of food funding of animal origin – the European Commission received a letter signed by more than 60 scientists, led by the well-known ecologist Dr. Jane Goodall, in which they called on the European Union to reform the policy of promoting agricultural products. The letter asserts that 70% of agricultural emissions in the European Union are caused by livestock, which also covers 68% of agricultural land. Industrial livestock farming, which is very prevalent in Europe, leads to soil degradation as well as overuse and pollution of water and air.

At the end of June, public consultations as part of the review of the EU’s promotion policy ended, and the position of the European Parliament on meat promotion policy is currently being agreed upon. A European Commission conference on this topic is scheduled for next week.

Leave a Comment