Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs programme hosted by Nick Robinson interviewed American novelist Jonathan Safran Foer who has recently released the book ‘We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast.’
Mr Foer tells the BBC that there are four actions the public can take to ‘save the plant’ – flying less, driving less, having fewer children and moving towards a plant-based diet, and he suggests that more success is likely to be had with encouraging a dietary move.
“I do not suggest that was all go vegan – what I suggest is that citizens of the UK, US and Europe need to eat 90% less meat and 60% less diary in order to avoid irreversible climate catastrophe and my proposal is ‘let’s start at breakfast and lunch,’ Mr Foer urged.
Presenter Robinson challenged Mr Foer on whether moving away from more extensive animal production to intensive farming production to produce alternatives would produce problems of its own, to which Mr Foer responded: “We need to dismantle intensive animal agriculture! The world would be a better place but unfortunately more than 99% of animals eaten in States come from industrial farms and that percentage is not so different to that in the UK.”
NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick expressed his remorse at the comment being allowed to go unchallenged: “The inaccurate statement made on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme this morning (October 7) is another in a long line of figures that get drawn out and then are not properly challenged with a balanced response.
“We as an industry work hard to produce the best possible food from the landscape and environment we have available, 85 per cent of which in Scotland is Less Favoured Area and only suitable to grow grass and graze livestock and in no way could it be described as industrial,” he stressed.
“Climate change has been described as an emergency and we all have to work together in order to address it. Back handed comments like the ones made on the radio this morning only work against this cooperation and our ability to work towards the common goal of protecting our environment whilst producing sustainable and nutritious food for our growing population,” he concluded.
The chief executive of Quality Meat Scotland, Alan Clarke, commented: “It is extremely important that there is a differentiation made between Scotland’s production systems and others in different parts of the world.
“Scotland has a very strong message to convey given our industry produces quality beef and lamb from the grass and rough grazing which make up around 80% of Scotland’s agricultural land and could not be used for cereal, fruit or vegetable production. Our grassland also acts as a carbon sink and there is a vital role of grazing animals in providing habitats for wildlife and maintaining the landscape,” he continued.
“From 1990-2017, Scottish agriculture decreased its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 29% and is continuing to work hard to pioneer new technologies which will potentially decrease methane emissions and increase carbon capture in the extensive grass areas of Scotland.”