February 3, 2015

European Communication on Sustainable Food MUST be a priority

Alana Ridge

Alana Ridge

Visionaries from diverse backgrounds—from the arts and media to civil society, faith and ethics,  and academia—across the globe recently responded to an opinion piece published in the Times of London entitled “Eat Less Meat: A vital message is buried in a new report on climate change.” Dr. Robert Lawrence, the current director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, is one of the 75 signatories. The response has been featured in the Times and on the website of Compassion in World Farming. We are publishing it here in its entirety because we believe it is important to share news that lies at the intersection of diet, health, and the environment. The health, environmental, and ethical consequences of using ecosystem goods like water, soil, and food without regard for sustainability, vulnerable populations, and future generations are unjustifiable. Here is that letter in full:


The Leader in 28th January 2015 Times “Eat Less Meat” comes at a critical point in the debate about food and farming.

Crucial negotiations on global climate, food and development policy are taking place over the next few months. The results will have a huge impact on all our lives and on the future wellbeing of our planet. There is good news, bad news and potential for real reform.

The bad news is that the European Commission has failed to deliver its promised Communication on Sustainable Food.  This should have mapped out a new vision for European and global food policy and addressed the current high level of meat consumption in certain populations, and the industrial farming model that this has generated. While excess nutrition is today killing more people than hunger, intensive animal agriculture uses a third of the world’s human edible grain. The big question – which needs to be answered – is why has the Communication been dropped?

The Sustainable Development Goals, which will set the future direction for global development, are being finalised right now. We believe it is vital that the agricultural goals are based on humane ecological principles. We already produce more than enough to feed the 9.6 billion people expected to be alive in 2050 yet much farming policy is still driven by the erroneous assumption that we need to produce more.

Instead of pursuing production at any cost, global farming policy should focus on producing food for a balanced diet for all and achieving improved livelihoods for the poorest small-scale farmers.

Industrial livestock systems must be avoided as these involve low quality lives for millions of sentient animals and pollute water, harm soils, reduce biodiversity and are one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. With global climate talks working towards a potential climax in Paris at the end of 2015, it is vital that the emissions from livestock production and its associated deforestation are factored in.

We call on the European Commission to reinstate the stalled Sustainable Food Communication and to place the problems of industrial animal agriculture at the heart of the Communication. These problems must also be recognised in the global negotiations on sustainable development and climate change mitigation.

Joyce D’Silva – Compassion in World Farming

Dr Jane Goodall DBE

Joanna Lumley OBE

Prof Peter Singer AC

Jonathon Porritt CBE

Dr Jonathan Balcombe

Gordon Roddick

Peter Egan

Peter Kindersley

Tony Juniper

Prof Mark Post

Prof Robert Lawrence

Prof Paulo Borges

Prof Kurt Remele

Prof Dave Goulson

Prof Jan Willem Erisman

Prof William Greenway

Prof M S Swaminathan PS

Geoff Tansey

Prof Elizabeth Stuart

Prof Joy Carter

Fazlun Khalid

Annemiek Canjels

Dr Carola Strassner

Norma Alvares PS

Prof Ben Mepham

Prof Marita Candela

Dr Alex Richardson

Zhang Dan

Nithi Nesadurai

Rebecca Miller

Dr Brian Hare

Dr David Suzuki

Frantzis Alexandros

Sir David Madden

Timmie Kumar

Angus McIntosh

Dr Dan Brook

Brian Sherman AM

Prof Clive Phillips

Prof Steve Garlick

Bruce Kent

Julia Stephenson

Stanley Johnson

Dr Jeffrey Masson

Prof Julia Formosinho

Prof Mark Eisler

Dr Kate Rawles

Prof Mohan Munasinghe

Prof Michael Carolan

Prof Paul Krause

Dr Antoine Goetschel

Carol Royle

Dr David Nally

Dr Chinny Krishna

Prof Martin Kemp

Prof João Formosinho

Prof Duo Li

Marina Lewycka

Chris Mullin

Martin Palmer

Dr Deborah Jones

Dale W Jamieson

Sue Jameson

James Bolam

Audrey Eyton

Wendel Trio

Nitin Mehta

Miriam Margolyes

Prof John Webster

Prof Michael Reiss

Annemiek Canjels

Dr Eleanor Boyle

Prof Marc Bekoff

Mario Tozzi

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