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Executive Director's Message:

You will have received a report about the innovation tour in Paraguay from Josefina last week. Josefina and our friends from the Paraguayan Roundtable led the tour in the Gran Chaco to learn more about sustainable practice in the region. By all accounts, it was both a very popular and a very successful event. Congratulations to Josefina and the team from Paraguay.

In the meantime, I was in Lexington, Kentucky for Alltech One, followed by Kansas City, Denver and then Las Cruces, New Mexico for the Beef Improvement Federation Symposium. 

Alltech One was a great event with attendees from all over the world. The beef track was just one of several, including Pork, Diary and Poultry. It was an excellent opportunity to learn about progress being made in the beef industry on productivity and health, and there was also an excellent presentation by Professor Gbola Adesogan Director, Food Systems Institute & Livestock Systems Innovation Lab at the University of Florida, on the importance of animal source foods in the human diet, (see paper) both for young children, and increasingly, also for a large proportion of women both in lower and higher income countries, who for a variety of reasons are deficient in iron and a range of other nutrients that are most bioavailable from animal source foods.

We have invited Stephan van Vliet and Ty Beal to speak at our Global Conference in November. Both are nutritionists with a keen interest in how to sustainably feed the world's growing population. See this paper as an example of work they have done together with a number of colleagues probably well known to our audience, including Frederic Leroy, Jason Rowntree and Pablo Gregorini (some of you met Pablo in New Zealand in 2019). 

Though we have not focused intensely on human nutrition in the past, it is clear that it is an important aspect of the need for sustainable beef production.

Another article of interest by Stephan van Vliet concerns a metabolomic comparison between a beef patty and an alternative plant based product. They found large differences in metabolites and concluded that the products cannot be considered nutritionally interchangeable despite similarities in the nutrition facts panel.

At the Beef Improvement Federation Symposium, I presented on Beef Sustainability, “Rhetoric vs Reality”, and will share the abstract from my talk next time. The gist of what I was talking about was that demand for animal protein continues to grow, despite the considerable opposition from a number of vociferous quarters. 

Our very reason for existence is to address legitimate concerns about the sustainability of beef production. We also need to be clear when claims against meat are unfounded or exaggerated, as it is not possible to continue a rational discussion on the topic if the general public is being misled. Establishing a positive and proactive dialogue that does not come across as either dismissive or defensive is one of our great challenges. Expect that to continue unabated particularly around the launch of EAT lancet 2.0.

Through such tactics – pouring large amounts of money into high profile events that vilify meat consumption, those who are ideologically opposed to eating meat can establish their version of sustainability as axiomatic. It is a successful strategy with many consumers and until we can match those levels of investment in both demonstrating sustainability and disseminating the message widely, we will continue to receive significant levels of blame for climate change, biodiversity loss and animal welfare issues. That is why we have our goals, why our whole network has committed to work on the overall sustainability of the industry, and set goals in those three areas.

We are excited about the Monitoring Reporting and Verification work that will be developed by Sure Harvest with our working groups and national roundtables, starting this week. This is another important step on the way to being able to report progress against our goals.

I was sent this paperMethane and cows: time for a re-think? last week. As it is not yet published, this is a copy on our website. It is an interesting analysis, even if it has not been peer reviewed. There are certainly differences in the way that diffuse emissions close to the soil, such as enteric emissions from cattle, breakdown when compared to concentrated sources from fossil or landfill sites. 

Soil methanotrophes are one poorly understood part of the equation. The fact that only one significant ruminant source amongst thousands of observations is certainly noteworthy. The questions the paper asks are all valid and should be addressed in the scientific literature. That does not take away from the fact that we can reduce enteric emissions, and we can sequester carbon in soil (in some environments, grasslands do this more reliably than trees). We must be both willing to do that, and talk about the positive effect of doing so.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
June 18, 2022

The 2022 Global Conference on Sustainable Beef is Reaching New Heights: Achieving Global Goals in Denver, Colorado, U.S. at the Hilton Denver City Center, November 7-10, 2022. The conference will be preceded by the Communicators Summit on November 7th and conclude with the option of 3 different tours on November 10th. More information is coming soon! 

If you have any questions regarding the conference or are interested in learning about Sponsorship Opportunities, please contact Katie Ambrose.

Please see a summary of all meetings, calls and webinars on our event calendar in the member area of the website.

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