IRELAND, Dublin. Following the International Summit on the Societal Role of Meat in October, lead scientists released the key conclusions of the conference.
The summit, hosted by the Irish state agency for agriculture and food development Teagasc in Dublin, featured a scientific review of the latest developments and research on livestock farming and meat consumption. A broad range of scientists discussed various topics, such as 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.
According to a press release, summit speakers and participants broadly agreed that livestock systems must progress based on 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.
According to the group of scientists, the presentations showed various aspects of the importance of meat for human nutrition, the environment and livelihoods. For instance, livestock-derived foods provide essential nutrients and are a vital part of a well-balanced diet. Farmed and herded animals can be raised on land unsuitable for crop production. They are irreplaceable for achieving circular agriculture, as they convert inedible biomass into a high-quality, nutrient-dense food.
Furthermore, livestock farming provides millions of people with food, clothing, power, manure, employment and income. Owning livestock is one of the most common private assets in the world. It 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, the experts point out.
The scientists also called for consideration of the ethical dimensions of meat production, 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. A detailed report on the findings will be published in March 2023 in the journal Animal Frontiers.
The recordings of the individual presentations are available on the Teagasc's website.