February 10, 2019 at 9:31 am #183426
According to French researcher Professor Denis Corpet, the response by UK and EU politicians to the evidence laid out in a World Health Organisation (WHO) study outlining these concerns has been “unsatisfactory”.
“The failure of governments globally to engage on this public health scandal is nothing less than a dereliction of duty – both in regards to the number of cancer cases that could be avoided by ridding nitrites from processed meats – and in the potential to reduce the strain on increasingly stretched and underfunded public health services,” Professor Corpet wrote. “It is surely the responsibility of your administrations to educate parents of the risks posed by ham in their children’s lunchbox – and to facilitate the growth of safer nitrite-free agenda,” he wrote.February 10, 2019 at 10:59 pm #183431
Could be posted on the climate crisis thread but here is more apt as it reveals that Meat Vs Veg is not the only problem with food we face.
When will the bad news end?
“The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review. More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.”
“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.”
Intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines, particularly the heavy use of pesticides. Urbanisation and climate change are also significant factors.”
“If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind,” said Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, at the University of Sydney, Australia.February 11, 2019 at 11:19 pm #183471
Ultra-processed foods tend to be high in sugar, salt and saturated fat. France consumes less of such packaged foods and ready meals than many other countries, at around 14% of the diet. More than half the UK diet is ultra-processed food
French research involved more than 44,000 people over a period of seven years. They looked at how much of their diet – and calories – was made up of “ultra-processed” foods – those made in factories with industrial ingredients and additives, such as dried ready meals, cakes and biscuits. Over seven years of follow-up, there were 602 deaths, of which 219 were from cancer and 34 from cardiovascular disease. The research, published in the journal Jama Internal Medicine, found that deaths were more likely to occur in those who ate more ultra-processed food. The link was clear even after taking into account the greater likelihood of deprivation, smoking, obesity and lower educational background among those who ate ultra-processed food, the researchers say. Other scientists were unsure whether the study proved a link between ultra-processed food and an early death, but agreed it was more evidence that a junk food diet was bad for health. Other scientists said it was difficult to draw firm conclusions from the study, partly because the “ultra-processed” foods category was so large, ranging from packet soups to chocolate bars.
“The case against highly processed foods is mounting up, with this study adding importantly to a growing body of evidence on the health harms of ultra-processed foods,” said Prof Nita Forouhi, of the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge. She said more evidence was needed, “yet we would ignore these findings at public health’s peril…A vital takeaway message is that consumption of highly processed foods reflects social inequalities – they are consumed disproportionately more by individuals with lower incomes or education levels, or those living alone,” Forouhi said. “Such foods are attractive because they tend to be cheaper, are highly palatable due to high sugar, salt and saturated fat content, are widely available, highly marketed, ready to eat, and their use-by dates are lengthy, so they last longer. More needs to be done to address these inequalities.”February 12, 2019 at 1:08 pm #183480
At a time when scientists are calling for significant reductions in meat consumption nearly a fifth of the EU’s total budget – more than £24bn of taxpayer money – goes to support livestock farming across Europe, according to Greenpeace. Greenpeace said that EU farm subsidies should be redirected towards incentivising more fruit and vegetable production.
125 million hectares (308 million acres) of land in Europe is used to graze livestock or produce feed – this includes more than 60% of arable land that could otherwise be used to grow food directly for human consumption. Intensively raised livestock is given specialised feeds, including soy and wheat, that fatten them up faster, rather than by grazing on grasslands.
Instead of the intensive model of grain-fed livestock, the campaigners argue that meat and dairy production should be restricted to grass-based systems, where the animals are reared outdoors and fed a largely grass-based diet. This would free up large amounts of land to growing crops directly for human consumption.
“If Europe produced and consumed exclusively grass-fed livestock, we’d be a long way towards producing and consuming less and better meat and dairy in line with what science tells us is necessary to protect nature, the climate and our health,” said Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero.
“In the long run it makes increasingly less sense to incentivise production that creates more costly impacts to society than economic benefits,” said Professor Tim Benton, the UK’s former “food security champion”. “Farmers are not the ‘bad guys’ in a simplistic story: they are trapped in a system that rewards producing more at the expense of wider social costs arising from environmental and health impacts,” he said.
The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association said the research had clearly identified that environmental damage does not arise from livestock per se, but as a result of the way in which some animals are reared.
“The problem is the intensification of livestock production across Europe made possible through feeding grains to animals. Such practices have resulted in fewer small mixed farms and more specialised farms and monoculture production systems – along with a corresponding increase in fossil fuel consumption, nitrate fertiliser production, air and water pollution and loss of biodiversity,” said the executive secretary, Russ Carrington.February 13, 2019 at 11:37 am #183497
Pesticides that have been associated with increased risk of autism, cancers, autoimmune disorders, infertility, hormone disruption, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Organophosphates, a class of highly neurotoxic pesticides is linked to brain damage in children. Organophosphates are so toxic to children’s developing brains that scientists have recommended a full ban.
A peer-reviewed study published today in the journal Environmental Research found that switching to an organic diet significantly reduced the levels of synthetic pesticides found in all participants – after less than one week. On average, the pesticide and pesticide metabolite levels detected dropped by 60.5% after just six days of eating an all-organic diet.
“This study shows that organic works,” said study co-author Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. “We all have the right to food that is free of toxic pesticides. Farmers and farmworkers growing our nation’s food and the rural communities they live in have a right not to be exposed to chemicals linked to cancer, autism and infertility. And the way we grow food should protect, not harm, our environment. We urgently need our elected leaders to support our farmers in making healthy organic food available for all.”
“This important study shows how quickly we can rid our bodies of toxic pesticides by choosing organic,” said Sharyle Patton, Director of the Commonweal Biomonitoring Resources Center and co-author of the study. “Congratulations to the families who participated in the study and their willingness to tell their stories in support of creating a food system where organic is available to all.”February 14, 2019 at 8:02 am #183510
Another report released on the dangers of pesticides.
A broad new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, the most widely used weed killing products in the world, has found that people with high exposures to the popular pesticides have a 41% increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The findings by five US scientists contradict the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) assurances of safety over the weed killer and come as regulators in several countries consider limiting the use of glyphosate-based products in farming.
The evidence “supports a compelling link” between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the authors concluded.
“This paper makes a stronger case than previous meta-analyses that there is evidence of an increased risk of NHL due to glyphosate exposure,” said co-author Lianne Sheppard, a professor in the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences department at the University of Washington. “From a population health point of view there are some real concerns.”… “Is there evidence that it is carcinogenic? The answer is yes.”
“Together, all of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs are associated with an increased risk of NHL,” the scientists concluded.February 16, 2019 at 11:22 pm #183571
More on pesticides and MonsantoFebruary 20, 2019 at 8:15 am #183647
Sustainable food for 530 million Europeans with drops of 30% for plant products and 40% for animal products
A week after research revealed a steep decline in global insect populations that has been linked to the use of pesticides, the study from European thinktank IDDRI claims such chemicals can be phased out and greenhouse gas emissions radically reduced in Europe through agroecological farming, while still producing enough nutritious food for an increasing population.Agroecology takes into account natural ecosystems and uses local knowledge to plant crops that increase the sustainability of the farming system as a whole. The IDDRI study, entitled Ten Years for Agroecology, used modelling to examine the reduction in yields that would result from a transition to such an approach.
Reductions, the authors argue, could be mitigated by eliminating food-feed competition – reorienting diets towards plant-based proteins and pasture-fed livestock, and away from grain-fed white meat. More than half the EU’s cereals and oilseed crops are fed to animals. The study models a future in which European meat production has been cut by 40%, with the greatest reductions in grain-fed pork and poultry.
“Pesticide-hungry intensive production is not the only way to feed a growing population” said Rob Percival, the head of food policy at the Soil Association. “The Ten Years for Agroecology study shows that agroecological and organic farming can feed Europe a healthy diet, while responding to climate change, phasing out pesticides, and maintaining vital biodiversity.”February 22, 2019 at 5:28 am #183677
Another dire report on food producion
“The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity, according to the first UN study of the plants, animals and micro-organisms that help to put meals on our plates…Over the last two decades, approximately 20% of the earth’s vegetated surface has become less productive, said the report.It noted a “debilitating” loss of soil biodiversity, forests, grasslands, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and genetic diversity in crop and livestock species. In the oceans, a third of fishing areas are being overharvested…Agriculture was often to blame, he said, due to land-use changes and unsustainable management practices, such as over-exploitation of the soil and a reliance on pesticides, herbicides and other agro-chemicals.
Most countries said the main driver for biodiversity loss was land conversion, as forests were cut down for farm fields, and meadows covered in concrete for cities, factories and roads. Other causes include overexploitation of water supplies, pollution, over-harvesting, the spread of invasive species and climate change.
The trend is towards uniformity. Although the world is producing more food than in the past, it is relying on ever-expanding monocultures….”March 7, 2019 at 2:07 am #184163
“..One might argue that all of this is a good thing and that, as it did from the 1950s, enable us to feed an ever increasing human population. One can say that technology, in itself, is not a bad thing and that we should not be scared by the increasing visibility of robotics in society; after all we’ve been using tools since we lived in caves. However, one must look at who is really going to benefit from this creeping industrialization and automation of food, our most basic necessity… One must ask if this vision of the future is about better practices, productivity and good food or is it about eliminating the troublesome costs of human labour and human error in order to maximize profits? Will the consumer truly benefit from these predicted changes or will this mean even less transparency in an industry that already makes great efforts to hide unethical practices? Technology has the ability to be an incredible and transformative boon to how we live and can play a vital role in solving our environmental problems in the decades ahead. Unfortunately, if the past is anything to go by, it will lead to consolidation of already too powerful industrial interests, unemployment, environmental depletion and increased profits into fewer and fewer pockets. “March 16, 2019 at 11:08 pm #184539
In Britain, we expect food to be cheap. We spend an average of 8% of household expenditure on food to eat at home. That’s lower than any country except for the US and Singapore, go back 60 years and Britons spent twice as much on food, in relative terms, as we do now… Already, lower-income households in Britain spend more on food, as a percentage of their income, than the better off: 14% of their annual spend.
Vegans make up 2% of the population, vegetarians are 7% and flexitarians – those choosing not to eat meat for one or more meals a week – hover around 20%. Still, nine out of 10 British households regularly buy red meat.
A report from 2017 found there were at least 789 megafarms in the UK, many of them owned by foreign multinationals. (A megafarm, by the US definition, houses at least 125,000 broiler chickens, 82,000 laying hens, 2,500 pigs, 700 dairy or 1,000 beef cattle; in the UK, a farm is described as “intensive” if it has at least 40,000 poultry birds or 2,000 pigs grown for meat or 750 breeding sows.) Two of the biggest operators in the UK are the US-owned Cargill, with more than 100 farms, and Moy Park, based in Northern Ireland but backed by a Brazilian company. Another investigation last year discovered that American-style intensive cattle farms, where livestock have restricted or no access to pasture, were becoming more common in the UK. The largest farms fatten up to 6,000 cattle a year on “feedlots”.
Simon Fairlie has spent much of the past three decades thinking about our consumption of meat and asking whether it can ever be ethical and sustainable. He was a co-editor of the Ecologist and now edits a magazine called The Land; he’s also the author of a book, Meat: A Benign Extravagance, a thoughtful and rigorous trawl through the evidence. For Fairlie, it’s inarguable that we should all eat less meat: it’s not a great cornerstone for a diet and it’s harming the planet. But none? He doesn’t think so.
“The main problem we face is climate change and over two-thirds of global warming is caused by fossil fuels and industrial processes,” says Fairlie, citing US Environmental Protection Agency figures from 2014. “If the whole world went vegan it wouldn’t stop global warming. To do that, we have to stop using fossil fuels; and when we do we almost certainly won’t be able to produce as much meat as we do now, because of a lack of artificial fertilisers and the need to use land for biofuels, and diets will change accordingly.”
“Technically, a vegan diet probably is sustainable, but it is not sensible,” says Fairlie. “A diet with modest amounts of dairy, fish and meat requires less land than a completely vegan diet because a substantial proportion of livestock are fed on waste products. We also keep grazing animals for maintaining biodiversity, preventing forest fires, and keeping land clear for amenity use or renewable energy generation. Their populations have to be controlled, and if we are to cull them, we might as well eat them. A vegan diet is wasteful because it cannot use this valuable source of protein; whereas a high-meat diet is wasteful because it relies on feeding livestock inefficiently with grain that humans could eat.”
“…if you look at history, the biggest changes in our diet have come through things like war or natural disasters,” says Glencross. “It’s interesting to think: ‘Unless something really big happens, are we drastically going to change?’” She shakes her head and sighs, “Which is slightly worrying.”March 23, 2019 at 7:22 pm #184677
Nitrites do not protect against botulism – the chief reason ham and bacon manufacturers say they use the chemicals.
“This leaked internal report is highly embarrassing for the processed meat industry and for the Food Standards Agency which have persistently peddled the myth that nitrites are essential to protect against botulism,” said Baroness Walmsley, the vice-chair of parliament’s all-party group on cancer. On the contrary, this report reveals nitrites are not a controlling factor against Clostridium botulinum. This evidence raises serious questions about why nitrites are being added to our bacon and ham.”March 27, 2019 at 1:29 am #184749
A follow up to the disappearing insects
A third of British wild bees and hoverflies are in decline, according to a new study.
If current trends continue, some species will be lost from Britain altogether, the scientists say…Scientists warn that the loss of nature could create problems in years to come, including the ability to grow food crops…Every square kilometre in the UK has lost an average of 11 species of bee and hoverfly, between 1980 and 2013…The loss of insects has far-reaching consequences for entire ecosystems. Insects provide a food source for many birds, amphibians, bats and reptiles, while plants rely on insects for pollination…”April 17, 2019 at 1:41 am #185329
Even small amounts of red and processed meat – such as a rasher of bacon a day – can increase the risk of bowel cancer, according to research. The latest study led by Oxford University and funded by Cancer Research UK, adds to evidence, including from the World Health Organization, that eating red meat can be harmful. Cancer Research UK says 5,400 of the 41,804 cases of bowel cancer seen each year in the UK could be prevented if people did not eat processed meat at all.
Researchers analysed data from almost half a million people involved in the UK Biobank study.
Over the six years of their study they found 2,609 people developed bowel cancer.
Eating three rashers of bacon a day rather than just one could increase the risk of bowel cancer by 20%
For every 10,000 people in the study who ate 21g a day of red and processed meat 40 were diagnosed with bowel cancer
The comparable figure for those who ate 76g a day was 48
According to the NHS, 76g of cooked red meat is equivalent to about half an 8oz sirloin steak. A slice of ham or rasher of bacon is about 23g of processed meat.
“The results confirm previous findings that both, red and processed meat consumption, increase the risk of colorectal cancer. The increase in risk of approximately 20% per 50g increase of red and processed meat intake is in line with what has been reported previously, and confirms these findings. The study also shows that dietary fibre reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. An increased consumption of fibre, as shown by this study, would be of considerably more benefit.”
NHS guidance says there are some benefits of red meat – for example iron and protein content – that must be balanced against potential risks. People can still eat meat and be healthy.April 19, 2019 at 1:14 am #185415
In 2015 the Israeli Defense Forces branded itself a “vegan-friendly” army
North America-based animal rights organizations like Mercy for Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have also exalted Israel for its supposed “vegan revolution.” Never mind that Israel’s per capita rate of meat consumption is not only actually one of the highest in the world, according to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data, but is also almost four times that of the Palestinians. Many Palestinians are deprived the privilege of choosing whether to be vegetarian or not, since meat is largely an inaccessible luxury in Palestinian territories economically suffocated by occupation, and where 31.5 percent of households are food-insecure.
PETA recently reprimanded Hamas for reportedly using falcons to carry flammable materials into Israel, stating that “animals claim allegiance to no nation, don’t choose sides, and can only rely on human beings to show them mercy, and it is unacceptable to use them as weapons of war.” The fact that Israeli forces also routinely use animals like attack dogs as “weapons of war” when conducting home raids against Palestinian civilians — a practice opposed by organizations like the Palestinian Animal League — went completely unremarked upon.
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