Lobbyists for European agribusiness groups are using a document called the Dublin Declaration to lobby the EU against measures for reducing meat consumption in the bloc’s health and sustainability policies.
But an Unearthed investigation has revealed that the ‘declaration of scientists’, while endorsed by scientists, was written by livestock industry groups and consultants.
The Dublin Declaration of Scientists on the Societal Role of Livestock, launched at the Irish government agricultural agency Teagasc in October last year, argues that livestock is ‘too precious to society to become the victim of simplification, reductionism or zealotry’ and stresses the nutritional and environmental benefits of meat consumption.
In addition to generating media coverage, it has also been used to directly lobby the EU’s agriculture commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, said to be looking for ‘scientific support to push back against the anti-meat green deal and various EU plans to reduce livestock numbers’, and whose team described the Declaration as the ‘the first piece of utilisable science they have received in all their four years of Commission work’.
The Dublin Declaration’s lead author, Dr Peer Ederer, is an agribusiness consultant and ‘financial economist’ who calls veganism ‘an eating disorder requiring psychological treatment’.
At the World Meat Congress, held in the Netherlands earlier this month, Dr Ederer told an audience of livestock industry leaders to ‘aggressively’ use the ‘scientific instruments’ like the Dublin Declaration to lobby policymakers on meat and livestock policies.
‘Science tells us that livestock farming uses 83% of the world’s agricultural land to produce just 18% of the calories we consume, but 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. In Europe the livestock sector is responsible for almost 90% of the ammonia agriculture puts into the atmosphere and 80% of nitrogen runoff.
‘These are the hard facts that the meat industry is trying to avoid by talking about bronze age farmers and cultural traditions. But when you understand the physical reality of our current situation, it becomes obvious that opposing the necessary reduction in livestock production and consumption means supporting vast amounts of deforestation, huge loss of biodiversity and a guaranteed end to a stable climate.
‘On top of this, the system the meat lobby strenuously defends is eliminating small and medium-sized European farms – and particularly livestock farms – at the incredible rate of one thousand every day. Unless you are a large industrial farm, opposing change means embracing bankruptcy.’
Greenpeace EU policy director on agriculture
Emails, meeting minutes and other documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests reveal that the Declaration originated as a position paper developed by the livestock industry, was written and released by agribusiness consultants and is being used by PR agencies and lobbyists to block health and environmental policies in Europe.