Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Meat is very nutritious food besides providing unparalleled culinary pleasure to those liking them. It is no wonder that almost 90% of the world population eat meat given the opportunity and resources required to get access to them. Though there are sustained campaigns to convert people from carnivores to at least omnivores, if not herbivores, the argument being based on wasteful practices involved in commercial production of meat and similar animal products and the uncontrollable carbon emission causing global warming. However such scientific findings do not carry much conviction with those addicted to meat consumption. Feeble attempts to even marginally curtail meat consumption do not seem to have any chance of success as reflected by the recent aborted policy of American government to make one day in a week meatless day. Here is a report about this policy fiasco that may have far reaching implications.

"The USDA has retracted its support for an initiative to cut meat from Americans' Monday diets, caving in to pressure from livestock producers and complaints from a Kansas Senator. The original plug appeared in the USDA's internal "Greening Headquarters Update" on Monday, where three paragraphs on the third page mentioned Meatless Mondays, an initiative by Monday Campaigns, Inc.  The update called them a "simple way to reduce your environmental impact." The memo went on to say that animal agriculture — beef production in particular — wastes water, fertilizer, fossil fuels and other resources. It also contributes to global climate change, the memo said. "Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results," the newsletter said. "Did you notice that our cafeterias have tasty meatless options?" Well, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association noticed. The association's president, J.D. Alexander, said the newsletter called into question the USDA's "commitment" to farmers and ranchers. He called the newsletter "awakening," and condemned the agency for failing to understand efforts made to produce food sustainably. He cited progress the industry has made over the last 30 years to produce more meat with fewer environmental costs. "This move by USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet," Alexander said. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) noticed, too. Once he saw Twitter responses to the USDA's promotion of Meatless Mondays, he immediately printed out the USDA's newsletter and headed down to the Senate floor, his aide, Garrette Silverman told ABC Kansas is the third-largest beef producer in the country. "We are a beef-producing state and it is one of the items that improves our balance of trade as we export meat and beef around the world," Moran concluded his three-minute speech on the Senate floor. "And, yet, our own Department of Agriculture encourages people not to consume meat."

One of the illogical offshoots of the above flip-flop is the inconvenient question whether the US government is pro farmer or pro consumer or pro lobbyists1 It is an established fact that the American government is a prisoner of powerful farm and industrial lobbies which are supported by the political class of all hues unabashedly. In this particular policy reversal case it is the producers of meat products who exerted undue influence to abort the policy under the pretext that the highly subsidized industry would suffer grievously if meat consumption is reduced by even marginally. Same scenario is repeating itself whether it is use of HFCS in most products or improvement of cages for the poultry birds or genetically modified foods or branding of Pizza products as vegetables for school cafeterias with consumer interests totally sidelined! This is a travesty justice as promotion of meat is not a policy that can improve the health of the population as well as that of the planet. Such lop sided priorities are bound to cause long term damage to the citizens and it is nothing but shirking of responsibility by the government to wards building a healthy environment in the country  


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