Founded in 1990 by Alan Caruba, a business and science writer, the Center is a clearinghouse for information about "scare campaigns" designed to influence public opinion and policies. Read Caruba's daily commentaries at "Warning Signs" (see favorite sites)
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Friday, September 16, 2011
The Enemies of Meat - A Four-Part Series
All dates, unless otherwise specified, refer to events in 2008
This is a four-part series about the falsehoods regarding the consumption and production of beef. It will expose a classic “scare campaign” designed to influence public opinion and policy.
Demonizing Beef: Consider the Source
Back in 2005 I wrote a commentary, “The War on Meat”, because for a long time I had been aware of a propaganda campaign about beef that emanated from a variety of sources that included the animal rights loonies, a variety of dubious think tanks putting out “studies” about the horrors of eating meat, as well as other sources.
In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow” that was so full of absurd claims, dressed up to look like science, that I made a mental note to revisit the issue.
When, in early August, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) compared the murder and beheading of a 22-year-old on a Greyhound Bus by some deranged passenger, to “acts of cruelty and killing performed every day by the meat industry” it reminded me how divorced from reality PETA is and, at the same time, how consistent the attacks on beef production and consumption have been.
By late August, USA Today ran an article noting “Animal rights groups pick up momentum.” A spokesman for the Animal Agriculture Alliance, an organization that defends the livestock industry, noted that “Ultimately, their goal is to eliminate animals being used as food,” adding that, “There’s a real danger when we allow a very small minority of activists to dictate procedures that should be used to raise animals for food.”
The real twist to the issue of livestock production came with the FAO report because it equated the raising of beef worldwide with the inane claims of another United Nations agency, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That really got my attention because the IPCC has, in recent times, been thoroughly discredited by conferences and petitions of scientists worldwide who have examined its global warming claims and concluded that they are based on seriously and often deliberately flawed computer models.
In early September, The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based, non-partisan, independent think tank had also taken notice. In an article published in Environment & Climate News, it noted that “Global warming activists are putting agriculture firmly in their crosshairs, launching new efforts to restrict meat production and consumption.” Noting that “Global warming activists say keeping livestock at a farm uses too much energy,” the article cited the way “the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations attributed 18 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions to livestock.”
Never mind that the Pacific Research Institute reports that “Worldwide, livestock production provides livelihoods for 1.3 billion people, and particularly in developing countries livestock are also a source of renewable energy for farming activities, and a source of organic fertilizer.” So at least one-sixth of the world’s population benefits from raising livestock and, of course, meat’s many nutritional elements benefit consumers. As incomes have begun to rise in nations like China, the consumption of meat has risen as well.
As Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, points out, “I think this shows is that (global warming alarmism) is really about controlling people’s lives rather than saving the planet.”
Environmentalism has always depended on some form of alarmism and that is why the FAO report on livestock production requires a strong dose of truth to offset its many distortions. Let us begin with the assertion that global warming is occurring. It isn’t. The Earth has been cooling since 1998. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a miniscule element of the Earth’s atmosphere, barely 0.038%. Thus, to predicate an attack on livestock production because of global warming is to engage in the kind of boldfaced fraud we associate with Al Gore.
Curiously, there is relatively little overt criticism of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization despite the occasional passing notice of its abject failure to make a dent in the frequent problem of famines. Due to its vast bureaucracy the FAO has been known to stand by while people died, engaging in internal politics and favoritism.
One study, written in 1988, and released by the Heritage Foundation, took note of its chronic problems, reporting that it was created in 1945 “with the lofty aspiration of feeding the world’s hungry. It has not done so, despite at that time more than $8 billion in outlays.
“The sad fact is that the FAO has become essentially irrelevant in combating hunger. A bloated bureaucracy known for the mediocrity of its work and the inefficiency of its staff, the FAO in recent years has become increasingly politicized. As in the case of other U.N. agencies, the FAO is anti-Western and oblivious, even hostile, to the role of free enterprise in development. It embraces the collectivist ideology espoused by the radical leftist nations who now dominate U.N. proceedings.”
Not much has changed since the Heritage Foundation was first issued twenty years ago and today’s use of the FAO to lend credence to the discredited global warming hoax.
The issue at hand is whether free people in a nation founded on liberty will stand by and permit massive hoaxes like global warming or organized attacks on its thriving beef production industry determine what they will eat while undermining an important element of the nation’s economy.
In the second part of this series, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s assertions will be refuted with facts, most of which will come from agencies of the U.S. government.
As Part Two of my four-part series on beef production and consumption continues, we look at the way an animal rights group like PETA taps the global warming hoax to justify requiring everyone to accept a vegetarian diet.
PETA: Saving the Earth by Not Eating Meat
As the vast global warming hoax begins its inexorable death, an equally vast campaign against the raising of livestock and the consumption of meat continues, led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and supported by the propaganda machinery of the United Nations through its Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The assertion that the raising of livestock worldwide is contributing to “global warming” is so obviously absurd that one might easily and quickly dismiss it, but the fact remains that this continues to be the cornerstone of a campaign to end the consumption of beef by more than six billion people around the world.
Dating back to the pre-history of man, the eating of meat has been part of the human diet. In February 2005, I wrote about “The War on Meat”, noting that humans have twenty teeth devoted to eating meat, but only twelve for fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the human stomach is designed primarily to eat digest lean meat, while the small intestine, pancreas, and liver are mainly herbivorous, designed to digest vegetables, fruits, fats, and farinaceous (starch) foods.
However, if you go to the website of PETA, you will find a page titled “Meat and the Environment” that cites a 2006 FAO report that accuses the meat industry as “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.”
Growers of livestock are accused of land degradation, climate change, and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and the loss of biodiversity. A number of environmental organizations such as the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, and Environmental Defense, have joined in this Big Lie. Colluding with the United Nations agencies, their capacity to spread lies through the mass media and into our nation’s schools represents a threat to our health and our economy.
Little known to the public, however, is the fact that PETA which campaigns against the raising and processing of livestock for food, targeting restaurants, grocers, ranchers, and others, routinely kills animals, primarily pets, entrusted to their care. The same holds true for other allegedly “humane” organizations. In 2007 PETA killed over 19,200 dogs, cats, and other “companion animals.” Over the last five years, it killed more than 90% of the animals it took in. PETA receives nearly $30 million a year from people who think that it is working to protect animals.
The truth, however, is very different from the lies of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, an agency that receives very little scrutiny from the world’s press. Founded in 1945, the FAO was intended to contribute to expanding the world economy by promoting sustainable rural development with an emphasis on the poorest farmers, promoting food productions and self-reliance, and raising the level of nutrition of the world’s population. Fortunately for mankind, it has no mandatory powers and relies instead on the promulgation of bogus reports like “Livestock’s Long Shadow.”
The largely urban population of the United States cannot be expected to know how it is that an extraordinary variety of meat products are found daily in the nation’s supermarkets or enjoyed in its restaurants and fast food establishments. That job belongs to the more than 800,000 beef producers throughout the nation who provide a year-round supply of wholesome and nutritious beef at affordable prices.
Consumers have already begun to notice how the environmentally-inspired mandates to turn corn into ethanol, a fuel additive, have driven up the cost of beef and other food products. They have learned that Congress for thirty years has denied access to America’s vast reserves of oil and that its ethanol mandates have increased the cost of beef production along with the provision of affordable gasoline and all other petroleum products.
Today beef production technologies are based on sound science and are subject to strict government review. The safety factor of beef products is a modern marvel.
Charges that beef production is responsible for a score of threats to the environment is easily refuted when one considers that more than half the agricultural land in the United States is unsuitable for crop production and that grazing animals on this land more than doubles the land area that can be used to produce food in the United States. Rather than creating erosion, foraging animals such as cattle help stabilize the soil and promote expanded growth of grasses.
Despite this, United Nations agencies continue to urge policies that do nothing for the alleviation of hunger, but instead further an agenda for the socialist redistribution of wealth common to communist regimes. U.N. agencies have consistently sought to thwart the development of gene-slicing technology to enhance crop production along with the banning of pesticides and herbicides to protect crops, animals and humans.
Its ban on DDT has been called “tantamount to withholding antibodies from patients with infections; it is mass murder, and the U.N. is a co-conspirator in the deadly campaign against the chemical’s use.” Its charge that the Earth is warming when it is, in fact, cooling, is a pure deceit.
By contrast, a three-ounce serving of lean beef contributes less than 10% of calories to a 2,000-calorie daily diet while, at the same time, providing an excellent source of protein, zinc, vitamin B-12, selenium, and phosphorus, as well as being a good source of niacin, vitamin B-6, iron and riboflavin.
In essence, the campaign against beef production and consumption is a campaign against the health of all who enjoy its benefits and, along with efforts to curb all forms of energy use, constitutes an insidious war on the welfare of the world’s population and economy.
Part Three of the Center’s series on beef production and consumption takes a look at why eating beef is one of the best choices one can make for their health.
The Food Police have a ‘Beef’ with Beef
In August 2007, Claudia H. Deutsch of The New York Times wrote an article, “Trying to Connect the Dinner Plate to Climate Change.” Talk about grasping at straws!
This alleged science writer was apparently unaware that the Earth has been cooling since 1998, nor that a legion of scientists, climatologists and meteorologists, have been coming forth to blow great big holes in the global warming hoax.
“The biggest animal rights groups do not always overlap in their missions,” wrote Deutsch, “but now they have coalesced around a message that eating meat is worse for the environment than driving. They and smaller groups have started advertising campaigns that try to equate vegetarianism with curbing greenhouse gases.”
Deutsch quoted Matt A. Prescott, manager of vegan campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as saying, “You just cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist.” The Humane Society got into the act as well. Deutsch cited a webpage that asserted that, “switching to a plant-based diet does more to curb global warming than switching from an S.U.V. to a Camry”; a quote from Paul Shapiro, the senior director of the Society’s factory farming campaign.
Putting aside the fact that claims regarding carbon dioxide (CO2) increases have no impact on the warming of the Earth—they constitute 0.038% of the Earth’s atmosphere—such claims are so absurd they challenge credulity. They are, however, part and parcel of the general attacks on the production and consumption of beef.
Americans have grown accustomed to the “food police”, those groups that are forever warning them about eating just about anything. The cry is that Americans are suffering “an obesity epidemic.” Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has opined that Americans should eat like 18th century serfs, dining “on perhaps a pound of bread, a spud, and a couple of carrots a day.”
The abundance of a wide variety of nutritious and delicious beef and other meat items in supermarkets across the United States is a triumph of science and animal husbandry. Some 800,000 producers of beef not only feed Americans but contribute to the economy through their exports.
Through science-based improvements in breeding and animal nutrition, beef production in the United States per cow has increased from about 400 pounds in the mid-1960s to 585 pounds in 2005 according to industry statistics.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS), U.S. consumers spend a smaller percentage of their disposable income for food consumed at home (6.5%) than any other nation in the world. It has been Congressional mandates to convert corn—a major feed product for cattle—into ethanol that have driven up the cost of meat and other food products while reducing mileage and adding CO2 emissions.
Those who raise livestock for America’s dinner plates are also strong stewards of the land and more rightfully qualify to be called environmentalists than those seeking to convince people they are part of the bogus global warming hoax.
More than half the agricultural land in America is unsuitable for raising crops. Grazing cattle is an example of the responsible land management that has been in use for hundreds of years. In effect, grazing allows the use of the land while, at the same time, battling erosion, invasive plant species, and wildfires. It’s not just cattle grazing, it’s also proper environmental practices to protect water and encourage natural grasses.
Beef producers and farmers remain the targets of animal rights and environmental groups who consciously ignore the fact that food is required for human life while they focus on the energy required to produce it.
What cannot be denied are the health benefits of beef products. Not only to they provide the nutrients for energy, they do so with fewer calories, providing in addition a range of vitamins and minerals for a healthy lifestyle. This doesn’t stop the propagandists from claiming that meat is responsible for a variety of cancers and other alleged health threats.
The vegans will not tell you that diets rich in meat are a major factor in the regeneration of blood and in tissue repair. As a tissue builder, muscles and other elements, meat has no equal. Meat is easily digestible because the human body is designed to process it. The body literally requires less effort to convert meat than it does for fruits and vegetables!
The world is full of busy-bodies and scolds, many of whom are politicians who seek to expand the power of government by intruding into private and personal decisions about what people can eat. Why should some restaurants be required to provide caloric information about everything they serve? Why should some cities seek to restrict fast-food establishments? Why are you and I being treated like children or fools who are not responsible for what we eat, how much we eat, and where we eat?
Beef production has NOTHING to do with global warming because there is NO global warming. What warming occurred after the Little Ice Age ended in 1850 has been completely natural. So-called “greenhouse gas emissions” from animals, humans, or energy use, has no impact on the climate. For that you need to look at the Sun, the oceans, clouds, volcanic eruptions, and events well beyond the activities of mankind.
Hungry? Have a steak. Have a hamburger. Have some ribs. Eat some meat!
This fourth and final part of my series on beef production and consumption is a roundup of the many claims put forth to assert that the raising of livestock poses a threat to the planet and that people should stop eating meat. The general absurdity of these claims should be enough to dismiss them.
Absurd Claims About Meat
Over the years Americans and others around the world have been subjected to a barrage of such absurd claims about beef production and consumption that, in a rational world, they should be dismissed on sight.
With enough money and enough coordinated effort, we have witnessed how vast portions of the world’s population can be convinced, along with their elected leaders, that the Earth faces destruction because we drive cars, use air conditioning, and eat meat. In recent years, however, leading climatologists and meteorologists have spoken out against the global warming hoax and it too shall pass into history.
My interest in the many attacks on meat was spurred by the fact that I was raised in a family where dining well was enhanced by a mother, Rebecca Caruba, who was an internationally famed teacher of haute cuisine, a cookbook author, and an authority on wine. The many ways various meats, fish, and other delectable foods could be prepared made dinner in our home a stellar event every evening.
In 2005, Frank Murray, the author of many outstanding books on nutrition, sent me a copy of “You Must Eat Meat” that he co-authored with Max Ernest Jutte, MD. Murray, a senior editorial advisor for Let’s Live magazine, spelled out the many reasons why meat should be a vital part of everyone’s diet and health regimen. It dispels the many myths surrounding meat, drawing on medical data.
Let’s briefly examine recent claims about beef production and consumption. In 2006 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow”, linking the worldwide provision of meat in people’s diets to global warming, deforestation, land erosion, air and waterpollution, and a host of other “reasons” to drastically scale back the raising of livestock and the eating of meat.
It was and is a wholesale attack on a multi-billion dollar industry, critical to the economies of many nations and the health of millions of people.
The animal rights advocacy group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, (PETA) has long maintained a campaign against those who raise livestock and, of course, against the eating of meat. PETA is an aggressive vegetarian group fueled by an estimated annual budget $30 million that is famed for its outrageous promotional campaigns designed to gain media attention. The gap between their claims and the truth is vast. Other think tanks and allied groups aid in the dissemination of lies about eating meat.
Here’s what you need to know when you encounter the anti-meat propaganda:
Global warming. The only warming the Earth has encountered has been since the Little Ice Age ended in 1850. It has been completely natural and repeats the same cyclical warming periods. The claim that anthropogenic, man-made, warming has occurred due to the generation of “greenhouse gas” emissions—based entirely on flawed computer modeling by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—has been completely dismissed by thousands of climatologists and meteorologists, some of whom were advisors to the IPCC, but whose criticisms were ignored. Similar claims that the world’s livestock and other animal emissions contribute to a non-existent global warming are baseless. Fears surrounding carbon dioxide (CO2) have no basis in fact as this and other greenhouse gases constitute a very minor element of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Damage to the environment. Claims that the raising of livestock harms the environment—land, air and water—are equally without merit. More than half of the nation’s agricultural land is unsuitable to the growing of crops. By grazing cattle and other animals, the production of food products is doubled. Moreover, foraging animals such as cattle help stabilize the soil and promote the expanded growth of grasses. The nation’s 800,000 beef producers have avested interest in being good stewards of the land and engage in a number of programs that ensure that theirs and federal lands are properly managed. Their livelihood is closely connected to preserving a healthy, safe, and clean environment.
Eating meat threatens human health. This is surely the most scurrilous lie of all. This highly politicized claim is wrongly reflected in the nanny-state inventions of dietary guideless issued by government agencies. They are primarily devoted to issues of weight gain or loss, but people come in different shapes and sizes, and a one-size-fits-all approach to proper nutrition is absurd. A well-fed population is taller, has more energy, and is more immune to disease precisely ecause, in the case of meat, it receives more protein and a wide variety of life-enhancing vitamins and minerals. Naturally nutrient-rich foods like lean beef ensures that people receive more essential nutrients in fewer calories.
Cruelty to animals. Finally, let’s address the claims that livestock is subject to cruelty in the way they are raised and ultimately processed for food. Common sense suggests that poorly fed and maintained livestock produce fewer pounds per animal. The reality is that modern beef production is devoted to raising beef that yield more and leaner, fat-free meat than as recently as a decade ago. The technologies involved are subject to both sound science and strict government review that include public health veterinarian inspections and safe food handling requirements in restaurants, supermarkets, and in recommended practices by consumers. Humane practices are required by law from the ranch to the processing plant.
There is no doubt that the war on meat will continue because there are many people invested in the often absurd and frequently outrageous claims made regarding its production and consumption.
There is, however, no reason to avoid meat as a valuable element of one’s diet or denying oneself the pleasures we associate with the many ways it is prepared for our dinner table.