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It's NBA versus CAT in bullfight over emissions

01 July 2010

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) has hit back at what it describes as 'inaccurate and misleading' allegations by the National Beef Association (NBA). So who's talking bull then?

The bullfight started when the NBA slammed CAT's report, “Zero Carbon Britain 2030”, which was released on Wednesday 16 June, as 'already outdated'.

The NBA, which says it's committed to helping UK agriculture meet Government carbon reduction targets, said it was 'dismayed that yet another potentially influential organisation has been unable to resist the easy call to condemn meat production as wasteful'.

The Association pointed out that Sydney University has shown that a cow grazing one hectare (2.5 acres) releases 54 kgs per year but that hectare of pasture land itself captures and stores 8.7 tonnes of CO2.

“The CAT has called for an 80% in the UK’s livestock numbers over the next 20 years. This is a naïve statement that fails to recognise that 72% of the UK land mass grows vegetation that can only be eaten by sheep or cattle - and not humans,” explained NBA chairman, Christopher Thomas-Everard.

“The good management of grazed pasture land is essential to sequester and lock vast stores of carbon into the soil below. Managing otherwise unusable land in this way provides many millions of wholesome meals for people and contributes greatly to the national economy.”

“If the small amount of grassland which is ploughable (only 1.9% of total moorland and pasture) is converted to cereal crops, just to satisfy the false mantra that meat production is wasteful and a vegetarian diet is better, it would be a terrible mistake and release a mass of CO2 into the atmosphere.”

“The Centre for Alternative Technology’s report completely ignores the production of meat off land that cannot be ploughed. We must remember human beings cannot eat grass.”

But the CAT has hit back, saying that claims that research is ‘outdated and naïve’ in CAT’s newly published zerocarbonbritain2030 report has been rejected by staff at The CAT. 

“zerocarbonbritain2030 includes input from 13 universities, 12 research bodies and eight key industry players that highlight the path to a zero carbon transition by 2030,'' CAT says. ''For the first time a comprehensive energy strategy has been produced that reduces emissions to zero for greenhouse gases across all sectors.''

''Land use is one of the sectors the report deals with. zerocarbonbritain2030 shows low-emitting foodstuffs generate more food and have a higher nutritional value than higher emitting grazing livestock.

Kim Bryan, spokesperson for CAT says “zerocarbonbritain2030 shows that acre for acre grazing livestock produce more green house gas emissions along with less nutritional value than other animals or crops.”

The report shows how changes to land use will be positive and see Britain grow far more of its own food and fuel, while creating greater energy, economic security and new rural jobs.

“The report proposes a reduction in grazing livestock because logic and evidence compel it, not for any other reason.

“There will still be meat but less of it. We are also concerned that the NBA has not fully understood the report. The NBA argues against grassland being converted to cereal crops. However, nowhere in our report do we suggest such a thing. The amount of tilled cropland does not increase at all in our scenario.
“Our task with the zerocarbonbritain2030 report was to demonstrate that it is possible to bring British net greenhouse gas emissions to zero. We found this to be impossible without a reduction in the production and consumption of animal products. If the NBA would care to suggest an alternative route, we would be very interested to hear it.” said Kim Bryan

Who'll land the next horn in this fascinating bovine battle? Watch this space...

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