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Release of key evidence and conclusions on meat’s role in society

Scientific experts announced today, Monday, 16 January, the release of key evidence and conclusions following the International Summit on the Societal Role of Meat held on 19-20 October 2022 in Dublin, and in advance of publication of a peer-reviewed edition of the journal Animal Frontiers to be published in March 2023.

Release of key evidence and conclusions on meat’s role in society

The summit, hosted by Teagasc in Ashtown, Dublin, with support from an international organising committee, featured scientific review of the latest developments and the body of evidence on meat’s role in human evolution, optimal diets at all life stages, biodiversity and soil health, environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions, economic growth and livelihoods, and diverse cultures.  

 Based on evidence reviewed during the summit, summit speakers and participants broadly agreed that livestock systems must progress on the basis of the highest scientific standards and that more research is needed across all aspects of meat science, requiring resources and collaboration among the public, academic, and private sectors. 

Declan Troy, Assistant Director of Research in Teagasc, commented; “Advances in animal sciences and related technologies are further improving livestock performance and contributions to health, the environment, and livelihoods faster than at any time in history. Scientific evidence must inform public, private, and academic collaboration to harness livestock’s positive contributions and deal with challenges such as greenhouse gas emissions associated with livestock systems. The issues discussed at the International Summit on the Societal Role of Meat are complex, demanding more multifaceted science based solutions.” 

The oral and visual presentations delivered at the summit have been published: International Meat Summit.

They show that meat makes key contributions to human nutrition, the environment, and livelihoods globally:  

  • Livestock-derived foods provide a variety of essential nutrients and other health-promoting compounds, many of which are lacking in diets globally, even among those populations with higher incomes. Regular consumption of meat, dairy and eggs, as part of a well-balanced diet, is advantageous for human beings.  
  • Farmed and herded animals are capable of using land not suitable for crop production and are irreplaceable for achieving circular agriculture, as they convert inedible biomass generated during the production of human food into high-quality, nutrient-dense food. Well-managed livestock systems can contribute to carbon sequestration, soil health, biodiversity, watershed protection and other important ecosystem services.   
  • Livestock farming provides food, clothing, power, manure, employment and income for millions of people globally. Owning livestock is one of the most common private assets in the world and is the foundation for many rural economies, particularly impacting women’s economic empowerment as one of the only assets women can hold in some societies.   
  • Dietary choice is a luxury not available to many people around the world, including those facing the ongoing problems of malnutrition and inability to access sufficient protein. Debates on meat production and consumption must consider ethical dimensions, including the cultural and historical significance of meat, regional contexts and constraints on food production, access, equity, and autonomy.  

Participants at the International Summit were invited to support the Dublin Declaration of Scientists on the Societal Role of Meat, which has so far been signed by more than 650 scientists around the world.  (See https://www.dublin-declaration.org

Ends

About the International Summit on the Societal Role of Meat: The Summit was organised by an international committee comprising Peer Ederer, Founder, GOALSciences (Switzerland);  Collette Kaster, CEO, American Meat Science Association (United States); Mohammad Koohmaraie, President of the Meat Division, IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group (United States); Frédéric Leroy, Professor, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium); Rod Polkinghorne, CEO, Birkenwood International (Australia); and Declan Troy, Assistant Director of Research, Teagasc (Ireland). For more information about the Summit agenda and speakers, click here