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April 10, 2017

Time to put a CAP on meat consumption

Humane Society International/Europe

  • An opportunity to make a difference. istock

Note: The opportunity for comment has passed. Thank you for wanting to help animals!

The European Commission is asking for your opinion on the EU’s outdated agricultural policy. This is a rare opportunity to make the world a better place for animals, the planet, and public health.

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was launched in 1962 and is in dire need of modernisation to include language acknowledging the need to reduce the consumption of animal products in the EU. Please respond to this short questionnaire, requesting that the CAP works to promote public health, lessen environmental damage, and reduce the number of animals raised on factory farms.

If you are pressed for time, it is not necessary respond to every question, but please refer to the draft text below for suggested responses to questions 12 and 16. Thank you!

Please follow this link to fill out the questionnaire.

Q12. What are the main problems/obstacles preventing the current policy from successfully delivering on its objectives? What are the drivers behind these problems? (max 1500 characters)

The greening objectives of the CAP cannot be adequately delivered without addressing overconsumption of animal-based foods in the EU, which drives high levels of production. Remodelling the CAP to incentivise plant-based foods, which tend to have lower environmental impacts, will put it on the right track to deliver these objectives. Protecting biodiversity, and reducing land and water pollution, and GHG emissions, are incompatible with current levels of animal product consumption. Continued heavy subsidisation of these products will prevent the realisation of many of its greening objectives. Overconsumption of meat also contributes to less humane conditions for many of the animals due to the large number needed to meet demand.

Climate change is one of the most important environmental challenges of our time, as recognised by the international community with the entry into force of the UN’s Paris Agreement. Animal agriculture is a leading source of human-induced GHG emissions, and must be addressed if we are to halt the rise in global temperature and avoid dangerous climate change.

Adaption techniques must be implemented in parallel with strategies that promote diets with more plant and less animal-based foods. A model that supports a 30% reduction in consumption could mean 2.5 billion fewer land animals raised for food in the EU each year, thereby decreasing the negative environmental impacts of animal farming, including up to 25% reduction in EU agricultural GHG emissions.

Q16. Do you see the need to add objectives for a modernised CAP; if yes, which ones? (maximum 1500 characters)

It is essential that the CAP includes the adoption of public health goals as an objective, which could also see co-benefits in the ‘greening’ of the CAP. Diet is one of the primary determinants of non-communicable disease, and high consumption of animal products, and low consumption of fruit and vegetables, are known to be linked to many of the chronic diseases that are widespread throughout the EU and responsible for 80% of deaths, including most notably obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, premature coronary heart disease and stroke, and some types of cancer. Studies show that many chronic diseases can be prevented, and in some cases reversed, with plant-based diets.

By incentivising plant-based foods over animal-based foods, the CAP could prevent thousands of premature deaths from chronic diseases in the EU each year.

Promotional budgets for agricultural products should be used to promote healthy diets, with the objective of improving public awareness of the health benefits of consuming more plant-based foods and fewer animal products, to reduce the risk of obesity and chronic diseases.

A CAP that meets public health objectives, should support a 30% reduction in consumption of animal-based foods by 2030, which could reduce saturated fat intake by up to 24%, and lead to substantial healthcare related savings and reduced levels of mortality in the EU.