Meat consumers who care about the environment must choose Swedish meat, said Agriculture Minister Peter Kullgren, while Swedish experts believe the problem with meat lies elsewhere.
Eating locally produced meat would help the environment, according to Kullgren.
“I think the primary thing is that as a consumer, an environmentally conscious consumer, choose Swedish meat as often as possible. It is very important,” he told Sverige Radio on Thursday.
However, according to Swedish experts, going local only has a marginally positive effect on the environment as the only difference would be related to transport-related emissions which would not have a significant impact on the situation.
“The difference in climate impact between Swedish livestock production and production in the countries we import from is small, if it exists at all. There is no good data really, so it is very unclear whether there is any difference at all,” said Elin Röös of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
According to experts, meat consumption is at the problem’s core.
Consumers in Sweden were recently urged to radically reduce their meat consumption by the Swedish National Food Agency, partly for climate reasons but mostly for health reasons.
“To protect both health and the climate, we need to eat differently than we do today. This is one of the major challenges of the future,” said Åsa Brugård Konde, nutritionist at the Swedish National Food Agency, in a press release.
“The best thing is to avoid meat altogether,” Röös confirmed, adding that eating less meat and dairy products actually leads to a bigger reduction in climate impact.
Despite scientific consensus on the issue, Kullgren still refuses to encourage people to avoid meat or dairy products altogether for climate protection reasons.
“I do not intend to interfere with people’s eating habits if they eat meat once a week or every day,” he said, maintaining that “ it is also important for Sweden’s security of supply that we consume Swedish food.”
(Charles Szumski | EURACTIV.com)