Beef-bashing report recommendations ‘overly simplistic’

Today’s report does not acknowledge the important regional differences in terms of impact on food products, according to Bord Bia, which has described recommendations to avoid certain foods as “overly simplistic”.

The national food board added that such recommendations do “not allow for economic or market realities”.

Bord Bia was responding to the release today of a controversial scientific report outlining what it claims are “healthy diets” from sustainable food systems.


The report, entitled “Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT – Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems”, is the findings of a three-year study, calling for an 89% reduction in beef and lamb consumption to just 7g per day.

Responding to the report, Bord Bia has outlined that from an Irish perspective, as an agricultural nation – and one that is among the most carbon-efficient in the world – we need to find a balance between producing food to meet global demand, while also sustaining the planet for future generations.

Since 2012, through Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme, Ireland’s agri-food industry and Irish farmers have been committed and proactively working to lowering their carbon footprint.

Acknowledging the need for feeding a growing population globally in a sustainable manner in the face of climate change, Bord Bia said that Origin Green is focused on increasing the efficiencies and reducing the impact of the food production systems in place in Ireland.

‘Realistic workable solution’

A Bord Bia spokesperson said that addressing global food challenges means all stakeholders need to commit to producing more from less, adopting more sustainable practices, with all sides working together to develop “a realistic workable solution”.

Any recommendation to avoid certain sources of food is overly simplistic and does not allow for economic or market realities. It also excludes any input from farmers or those who produce food products.

“Efforts that have focused on technological solutions, efficiency improvements and waste reduction provide more common ground, while acknowledging the role of farming and food production in rural communities.

“As we face unprecedented challenges to food security and the preservation of our global environment, the Irish agri-food industry and Irish farmers are willing to play their part.

“However, the solution must be environmentally and economically sustainable, securing the long-term viability and sustainability of the Irish agri-food industry,” the spokesperson added.


At farm level, the goal is to make horticulture, livestock, dairy farmers and other food producers consider, not only the economic, but the environmental and social impact of their decisions.

Results to date show a continued decline in the carbon footprint of Irish beef production, according to Bord Bia.

The average carbon footprint across participating beef farms has fallen by 5% to 10.50kg CO2 / kg LW. Bord Bia has also highlighted that the carbon footprint of Irish beef is close to the minimum beef carbon footprint reported among all the countries represented in a 2017 paper on a systematic review of greenhouse gas emissions from food categories.

There is no other country doing what Ireland is undertaking in terms of working towards sustainable food production, including carbon foot printing every farm.

This provides a structure to monitor, measure and focus efforts to deliver real improvements.


In addition to Origin Green, Ireland’s food production sector works in collaboration with Irish farmers and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on a number of initiatives to increase efficiency and reduce carbon footprint.

Bord Bia highlighted the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) introduced three years ago, which focuses on optimising the Irish beef herd and producing beef more efficiently.

Today, there are 24,000 farmers, representing 55% of the suckler herd, participating in the scheme and it is already delivering significant efficiency improvements in the herd.