The meat industry has reportedly been ‘borrowing tactics from tobacco companies’ as a means of downplaying the damage it inflicts upon the environment.
As per a recent in-depth investigation into the meat industry’s PR machine, the sector has apparently ‘developed a multi-pronged PR strategy’ with the aim of legitimising the current state of animal agriculture as well as pushing plans ‘to scale up production’.
This is despite mounting scientific evidence showing how our current escalating rate of worldwide meat consumption poses a severe threat to the Paris Agreement, the international treaty on climate change established with the aim of significantly reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
This investigation, conducted by DeSmog over a period of five months, looked into various ‘climate-washing’ tactics utilised by 10 of the biggest meat companies on Earth as well as their representative industry groups.
It was discovered that the meat industry has been ‘downplaying the impact of livestock farming on the climate’ in an attempt to paint itself as a climate leader, and has also been ‘casting doubt on the efficacy of alternatives to meat to combat climate change’.
Furthermore, the sector was found to be ‘promoting the health benefits of meat while overlooking the industry’s environmental footprint’, while ‘exaggerating the potential of agricultural innovations to reduce the livestock industry’s ecological impact’.
DeSmog gave the example of a conference held back in March, where US-based industry group Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) revealed plans to ‘change the narrative and position animal agriculture as a solution to reducing our environmental footprint and improving our planet for generations to come’.
However, Dr Jennifer Jacquet, associate professor of environmental studies at New York University, warned that such pledges are more are about reputation management than real commitment, telling DeSmog,
‘That’s what these people in these positions are paid to do’.
They’re paid to comfort us. They’re paid to get us to not think hard and deeply about the industry. They’re paid to assuage our worries.
And they’re paid to tell regulators: ‘Don’t worry, we’ll self-regulate. We’ll do a good job. You don’t need to worry about us. We are good actors.’
Dr Jacquet,who has also compared these methods to those used by the tobacco industry, telling The Independent:
Tobacco didn’t challenge the existence of lung cancer, but they kept denying and deflecting the causal link [with smoking] – and that’s what we’re seeing with beef and dairy.
Beef and dairy don’t deny that climate change exists, but they are carrying out actions to try to convince us that the causal chain isn’t there.
Meat and dairy production adds up to approximately 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, with leading scientists urging that our consumption habits must change if we hope to meet the current target of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
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