Diet and environmental sustainability has effectively been taken hostage by the hype around campaigns aimed at switching consumers from red meat and dairy-based diets to synthetic substitutes, ICMSA president Pat McCormack has said.

He said that the debate should be a considered and scientific one instead.

McCormack said that it was invaluable that there was still a scientific and academic community willing to defy the “mysteriously-funded” advertising campaigns and relentless hype.

People should return instead to the hard facts around what people should be eating and how that should be supplied to the consumers, he said.

Red meat studies

McCormack was referring to studies made by Professor Alice Stanton of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in which the farm organisation said “it was stated that there is a body of data that proves that moderate consumption of red meat was demonstrably beneficial in terms of lifespan over heavy consumption, very rare consumption or none at all”.

The whole debate seems to have been taken hostage by the hype around veganism and bogus or pseudo-science

“Professor Stanton specified a whole range of proteins and micronutrients that were to be found in red meat and she was particularly striking on the importance of animal-based foods for children – the very population group whose welfare is most highlighted by those seemingly most eager to harangue people into abandoning animal-based foods," he said.

“Referring to the period from conception to the second birthday, Professor Stanton stated in her report that protein and micronutrients intake then ‘contribute importantly to normal brain and body development. The consequences of deficiencies in these nutrients in childhood can be severe and irreversible, including stunting, reduced cognitive ability and school performance’,” the ICMSA president said.


The ICMSA president said he looked forward to these findings by an eminent authority being given the same airtime as RTÉ accorded to what he believed to be “notably less-qualified individuals commenting on diet and nutrition” during their climate week programme schedule last October.

“This is the really the heart of what we’re going to have to do and that’s ICMSA in coalition with anyone else who wants to cut through the relentless hype and deal in the hard facts around what we should be eating, in what quantities and at what stage in our lives,” he said.


McCormack also directed attention to Professor Stanton’s findings that consumption of dairy also brought health benefits.

“We have Professor Stanton telling us that the top 15 dietary risk factors for ill-health include diets low in calcium and milk. Again, if the State’s specialist dairy farmer organisation says it, then we’ll be accused of self-interest and pushing our own agenda.

“But the fact is that we don’t see the same broad media attention given to these facts and findings as we do to anti-dairy sentiment and pronouncements from sources much less qualified to comment than Professor Stanton.

"It’s difficult to imagine a debate more important than what we eat ourselves and what we give our children to eat – and how our diets can be made more sustainable and environmentally sound.

“That importance should mean that we deal with it on the basis of proof, science and absolute authority. But that’s not the basis on which the debate is currently being conducted. The whole debate seems to have been taken hostage by the hype around veganism and bogus or pseudo-science.

“Once this stuff is allowed into the debate and given parity with real science and real data, then we find ourselves unable to tell what is real fact from the deliberate fictions being peddled by these mysteriously funded advertising campaigns and their ill-informed cheerleaders in the wider media.

“We have to insist on the strict division between real knowledge and real hard facts and the relentless hype being introduced – and we suspect, paid for – by some corporations with a very large vested interest in detaching people from natural food and switching them instead to their own synthetic copyrighted variants,” he said.

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