War on meat in Germany

Cattle wait to be guided from their summer pasture during the annual Almabtrieb Late Summer Cattle Drive near Bad Hindelang, Germany, September 26, 2020.
(Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters)

The war on meat has become, so to speak, a staple food for climate warriors, and one way to fight it will be to increase the price of meat, perhaps indirectly, with the addition of new regulatory constraints, or directly, through some sort of carbon tax, or indeed, through a combination of the two.

It would be great, I suppose, with Cem Özdemir, the Green (vegetarian) who is the new German Minister of Agriculture.

DW:

The quality of food in Germany is too low, zdemir said, so are the prices, and everyone is losing out because of it. “There should be no more unwanted prices,” he said. “They drive farms to ruin, prevent animal welfare, promote species extinction and affect the climate. I want to change that. ”The price of food should, he said, reflect“ ecological truth ”.

Ah yes, the “ecological truth”, which I suppose will be determined in an inexplicable process with very little objectivity about it.

DW:

Ultimately, [Özdemir] said consumers also suffer from cheap foods with too much fat, sugar and salt, pointing out that more than 50% of German adults are overweight. “The former government tried for too long to get industry to reduce these ingredients with voluntary commitments. It’s over now. With me there will be binding reduction targets, ”said zdemir.

Command and control will, of course, be the essence of any new green agreement.

And as for those misguided consumers, it seems they just can’t be trusted to decide for themselves what to eat. The enlightened must intervene to put them on the right track. It’s an old formula.

DW:

The stated goal of the new government, formulated in the newly signed coalition contract, is to increase the proportion of ‘organically cultivated’ land in Germany from the current 10% to 30% by 2030 – although there is little details beyond that.

Meanwhile, reading this 2011 article by Christie Wilcox in the American scientist makes me wonder what will be the “ecological truth” behind organic farming. The article is by no means a success, far from it, but Wilcox highlights some inconvenient truths, including these:

What then makes organic farming different? It’s not the use of pesticides, his the origin of the pesticides used. Organic pesticides are those that are derived from natural sources and treated lightly, if at all, before use. This is different from the current pesticides used in conventional agriculture, which are generally synthetic. It has been assumed for years that pesticides that occur naturally (in certain plants, for example) are somehow better for us and the environment than those created by humans. However, as more research is conducted into their toxicity, this is simply not true either. Many natural pesticides have been shown to be potential – or serious – health risks. . . .

Even if the organic foods you eat is On a farm that uses little or no pesticides, there’s another problem: getting rid of pesticides doesn’t mean your food is free of harmful things. Between 1990 and 2001, more than 10,000 people became ill from food contaminated with pathogens such as E. coli, and many have organic foods to blame. This is because organic foods tend to have higher levels of potential pathogens. . . .

Some people believe that by not using manufactured chemicals or genetically modified organisms, organic farming produces more nutritious food. However, science simply cannot find any evidence that organic food is in any way healthier than non-organic – and scientists have been comparing the two for over 50 years. . . .

Organic farming also takes a little more space:

Wilcox:

Organic farms produce about 80% of what a conventional farm of the same size produces. . . . Already[2011], we have cleared over 35% of the Earth’s ice-free land area for agriculture, an area 60 times the size of all the cities and suburbs of the world combined. Since the last ice age, nothing has been more disruptive to the planet’s ecosystem and its inhabitants than agriculture. What will happen to what remains of our planet’s wildlife habitat if we have to mow another 20% or more of the world’s ice-free land to accommodate organic methods?

It is worth reading the whole article. It should also be borne in mind that those who push for a wider adoption of ‘organic’ agriculture frequently do so for reasons which may be political, emotional, philosophical, religious or cultural but too rarely involve #science. , itself a discipline which may have a somewhat delicate relationship with “ecological truth”.

But back to DW (emphasis added):

In July, a special government commission for the future of industrial agriculture – made up of both environmental groups and farmer groups – set the same general goals as Özdemir: reduce meat consumption, increase protection of the climate. Surprisingly enough, he concluded that beef should cost five or six times as much as it does today, or over € 80 ($ 90) per kilogram (2.2 pounds), instead of the current € 14. This price increase would be necessary to offset the costs induced by pollution and the loss of biodiversity, which the commission estimates at 90 billion euros per year. By the same calculation, dairy products should cost two to four times more than today.

The “stakeholder” society (“environmental groups”, “farmer groups”) at work. Corporatism is what it is.

DW (emphasis added again):

The committee also recommended that an investment of 7 to 11 billion euros per year be necessary to finance the ecological transformation of the agricultural industry. Even so, according to the report, there would be no way to reduce the total number of cattle on German farms, which would necessarily mean less meat on the market, and higher prices …

If what’s happening in European energy markets isn’t enough to convince you, it’s yet another warning that Greenflation is on the way – and there won’t be anything “transient” (to use a word. which is no longer in fashion) on this subject.

DW:

According to the Paritätische Gesamtverband, a coordination group of German welfare organizations, low-income people should receive compensation for higher food prices.

“The fact is that the necessary ecological transition must go hand in hand with a good social policy”, declared the president of the association, Ulrich Schneider. For this reason, Schneider said it was “unfortunate” that zdemir chose food prices as the main argument, rather than green issues and sustainable businesses. “People have to feel like they are included,” he said.

Oh they will. Not in a good way.

About Alma Ackerman

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