Meat, the FAO allegedly distorted two studies to favor the industry

Meat, the FAO allegedly distorted two studies to favor the industry
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Two scientists cited in a FAO studythe Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, they accuse the agency of willfully misrepresenting their research to benefit the breeding industrymanipulating various data for the purpose of underestimate the potential impact of a reduction in meat consumption in the fight against climate change.

Paul Behrensassociate professor at Leiden University, the Netherlands, and Matthew Hayekassistant professor at New York University, sent a letter to the institution asking her to retract the report Pathways towards lower emissions due to “numerous errors”.

The document – published on the occasion of Cop28the 28th edition of the UN Climate Conference of the Parties – contains a global assessment of greenhouse gas emissions and suggests a series of measures to mitigate the environmental footprint of agri-food systems drawing on research data led by Behrens.

The academics’ accusations against the FAO

The teacher’s work was published in 2017 and examines the impacts on the environment of the so-called nationally recommended diets (NRD), approved by the government authorities of the time and which have since become obsolete. Behrens claims that the research conclusions are not useful for understanding the current effects of dietary habits on the environment and adds that the FAO would have used the data to justify an estimate that for the third time in a row downsizes the contribution of livestock activities to global warming. According to the organization, the abandonment of meat consumption would reduce emissions from the global agri-food sector by only 2-5%.

Current scientific consensus emphasizes that changes in diets are the greatest lever we have to reduce emissions and other harms caused by our food system – said Behrens al Guardian. FAO has chosen the crudest and most inappropriate approach for its estimates and he has them presented in a very useful way for interest groups who seek to demonstrate that plant-based diets have marginal potential for mitigation”.

As if that weren’t enough, Hayek adds that the FAO would have inappropriately cited a previous analysis of which he was co-author. The original study, published in 2021, measured emissions from the entire agri-food system, but the New York University academic claims that in his report the FAO only applied the approach to evaluate livestock emissions, ending up present the possible benefits resulting from a reduction in livestock farming as being 6 to 40 times smaller.


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