According to a new EU report, red meat increases the risk of cancer

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4th Min read

The recently updated EU food promotion policy has linked red meat consumption to an increased risk of cancer. The Farm to Fork strategy includes beef, goat, lamb and pork in the red meat category. In connection with the European initiative “Beat Cancer”, the EU Commission recommends a step towards a more plant-based diet. Agricultural food produced in the EU will be promoted as a solution both inside and outside the Union.

the EU commission has budgeted 170 million euros to promote a greener food system. The general consensus is that red and processed meats must be reduced or eliminated from the daily diet to prevent increases in cancer rates. Instead, sustainable plant-based foods should be freely consumed. The report and policy updates are an attempt to slow the impact of existing food systems on climate change. This isn’t the first research-based association between red meat and the likelihood of cancer.

Driving the embassy home

The new EU report has allowed policy updates. A thorough review of existing promotions for the agri-food industry has shown the possibility of increasing awareness of sustainable consumption. “Our aim is to raise awareness of organic farming and more sustainable farming practices, coupled with the promotion of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are essential for healthy eating and a balanced diet,” said Janusz Wojciechowski, EU Agriculture Commissioner, in a statement.

In order to gain access to the € 170 million advertising budget, campaigns must meet strict criteria. They have to orient themselves towards the goals of the European Green Deal, support the common agricultural policy and commit to the “farm to table” strategy. You also need to work with the European plan to fight cancer. As a result, suppliers of fresh plant producers are given preferential treatment.

The EU Commission has identified a number of non-EU markets to target with agro-food advertising. Canada, Mexico, South Korea, and Japan were all identified as regions with high growth potential. A generous portion of the funding budget will be aimed at promoting systemic change in the food system in these areas. Southeast Asia as a whole is earmarked for strong promotion of diet change. This could prove critical, as Hong Kong alone has an enormous meat consumption.

Aside from promoting sustainable plant-based diets, the updated directive has associated mandates. Combating biodiversity loss, mitigating climate change, ensuring food security and food affordability are top priorities.

“Food systems remain one of the main drivers of climate change and environmental degradation,” writes EU policy. “There is an urgent need to reduce reliance on pesticides and antimicrobials, minimize fertilization and water pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and / or improve carbon degradation, improve organic farming and other sustainable practices.”

The directive concludes with a list of solutions that include precision farming, improved animal welfare and a shift to a healthy diet with less red meat.

Farmers fight back

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has carried out a devastating attack on the EU Commission. The ICSA has called the food-subsidy policy’s exposure of red meat consumption to cancer risk as “a deliberate misrepresentation of current research.”

“The EU seems to blame red meat consumption for the increased risk of cancer, while the report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) found only a slightly increased risk in processed meat.” Dermot Kelleher, ICSA -President said in a statement. “It couldn’t find any solid evidence of unprocessed red meat.”

The association questioned other variables in identifying cancer risk. Smoking and obesity were two named factors. With the EU taking an “ideological stance” on red meat, the ICSA noted that an overall balanced diet with an emphasis on unprocessed foods was certainly preferable. This diet would of course include red meat. “It is worrying that the EU appears to be supporting heavily processed plant burgers over real meat,” said Kelleher. “Aside from not being based on hard evidence, it distorts fair competition and actually undermines very nutritious foods produced by EU pet owners.”

While the ICSA is resisting this, farmers elsewhere in the world are taking a different path. Dairy farmers in particular, who are realizing that consumer trends are shifting towards a plant-based lifestyle, are adapting. In the US, they are helped through programs such as Miyoko’s Creamery’s DFT initiative. With financial and educational support, dairy farms are being converted to plant developers with guaranteed supply chains.

The Biden government announced that it would support the US meat industry. US $ 1 billion in government assistance has been pledged to expand domestic meat production capacity. The financing comes from the American rescue plan signed in March 2021. The government previously announced ambitious greenhouse gas emissions Emissions reduction targets for 2020. Animal husbandry is held responsible for the majority of all agricultural emissions. COP26 critics stressed that little was done to combat it. The recent announcement by the Biden administration confirms that the US has decided to ignore recommendations for less meat consumption and less meat production for personal and planetary health.


All images courtesy of Unsplash.


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