WHILE vegan intrusion into farms and production facilities associated with the meat industry plays out in Australia, a far more ambitious plan to disrupt meat and dairy production in order to save the planet has been launched under the guise of a universal healthy diet.
Activist group EAT describes itself as a global, non-profit foundation established by the Stordalen Foundation, Stockholm Resilience Centre and Wellcome Trust to catalyse a food system transformation.
Its mission is to "Transform our global food system through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships."
Its goal is to achieve five radical transformations by 2050:
- Shift the world to healthy, tasty and sustainable (read plant-based) diets.
- Realign food system priorities for people and planet.
- Produce more of the right food from less.
- Safeguard our land and oceans.
- Radically reduce food losses and waste.
To achieve this it has embraced what it calls creative engagement with partners across business, policy and science to amplify messages and spur action for change.
It believes that such engagement is the way to achieve impact at scale.
Who better therefore to partner with for a call-to-action commission than The Lancet, one of the world's oldest, most prestigious and best known medical journals.
EAT appears to have been the lead partner in this engagement with Prof. Johan Rockstrm of the aforementioned Stockholm Resilience Centre and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research co-chairing the commission.
The Stockholm Resilience Centre also hosted the secretariat and co-led the commission's research activities with EAT.
Nineteen commissioners and 18 co-authors from 16 countries in various fields including human health, agriculture, political science and environmental sustainability contributed to the manuscript ideas and are said to have seen and approved the final version.
Titled "Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems" was published on January 16 and has since been launched at forums around the world.
MLA manager - sustainability strategy and stakeholders Pip Band attended the commission's Australian launch and participated in its food systems dialogue with retailers, public health professionals and academics.
According to MLA, Ms Band also participated in a subsequent teleconference with the EAT Global chief executive officer and CSIRO's Dr Mario Herrero, one of the co-authors of the report to explore how the EAT-Lancet approach could be localised in Australia.
MLA clearly does not agree with the report's recommendations which if universally adopted would reduce global meat production 70pc by 2050.
But it seems MLA is wary that climate-change sentiment and fast-growing interest in sustainable diets could lead to widespread adoption even if the underpinning evidence base is limited.
Accordingly MLA has opted for 'constructive engagement' and seems satisfied with initial placations that local uptake of the recommendations would not mean a reduction in production given Australia's export profile and limited arable land.
However on the other side of the world the EAT-Lancet campaign to promote plant-based diets at the expense of meat and dairy has met some stiffer opposition.
The World Health Organisation pulled out of sponsoring the EAT-Lancet launch in Geneva, Switzerland on March 28.
WHO dropped its planned sponsorship after Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy's ambassador and permanent representative to the international organisations in Geneva, questioned the scientific basis for the diet and whether it was appropriate for WHO to back an event that promoted such a program.
Cornado warned that a global move to such a diet could lead to the loss of millions of jobs linked to animal husbandry and the production of 'unhealthy' foods and destroy traditional diets which are part of cultural heritage.
On the other side of the world the EAT-Lancet campaign to promote plant-based diets at the expense of meat and dairy has met some stiffer opposition.
Interestingly WHO's director of nutrition, Dr Francesco Branca, is one of the EAT-Lancet commissioners but WHO has distanced itself with a statement saying Branca's views and opinions are expressed in a personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect official WHO positions.
Meanwhile in Britain, meat industry leaders have expressed concern over statements of evidence by key government scientific advisers to the Environmental Audit Committee on Planetary Health.
The statements given by Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Ian Boyd supporting increased plant-based diets and a reduction in meat consumption demonstrated just how ready and willing the British 'establishment' is to promote the EAT-Lancet proposition.
Credence of this nature is manna-from-heaven for EAT and demonstrates the cleverness of their partnership strategy with The Lancet.
As well as 'constructive engagement' and 'expressing concern', perhaps the meat industry worldwide would do well to muster as many Lorenzo Cornados as it can find for the battle ahead.
Store market retreats
IT would have to be one of the briefest market spikes ever to occur in the midst of the New England weaner sales but for those vendors who managed to hit the sweet spot the rewards were significant.
Tenterfield on March 14 was a bit early but vendors there were happy with steers 20c/kg above expectations and the best Angus types just touching 300c.
Two weeks later on April 1 the market had climbed to 326c at Armidale for the 3800 on offer. Thursday that week saw Stanthorpe with 2800 head hit 350c for a great line of Angus steers only to be pipped by Glen Innes a day later when they hit 353c in an offering of 2700 head. But a week later it was gone. Similar weight and quality Angus steers on AuctionsPlus at Inverell last Friday sold for 316.5c/kg. Unfortunately indication from the early regular sales this week is that the store market is still in retreat.
The short weeks over Easter may help processors juggle their kills as supply continues to shorten in southern and central Queensland. This is expected to remain the pattern while producers gain what they can from recent rain before the season turns.
For now grids remain at 530-535 for 4-tooth ox and 440 for heavy cow and little change is expected until the usual pre-winter run of cattle occurs.