Animal Aid

Government funds research to improve the taste of meat

Posted 19 August 2008

While the inefficiencies of meat production and its detrimental impact on the planet are becoming increasingly well known, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council – which is funded by the UK government's Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills – is spending £400,000 on research to help improve the taste of meat.

Feeding grain to animals is an extremely inefficient way to feed the global population, with much of the edible harvest wasted in conversion to meat. Increasing numbers of farmed animals need more and more grain to eat, and the shortage has had a powerful impact on rising food prices. The world’s poorest are unable to buy food and aid agencies can afford to feed fewer of them. Around the world, many are already suffering – perhaps even dying – for other people’s preference for meat.

Water shortages are predicted to worsen in coming years and, once again, animal farming is wasteful of this precious resource. It takes 1,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of wheat, yet it takes 100,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef.

But it is the issue of climate change that remains in the news. Protestors from the Climate Camp in Kent recently scaled Smithfield meat market in London to highlight the links between what we eat and climate change. Animal farming accounts for 18 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions – which is more than every car, plane and train on the planet combined.

With the world finally beginning to recognise the impact that meat has on the planet and the world’s poorest – as well as on the health of the animals and those who eat them – one might hope that the government would choose to fund meat-free projects. Instead, it has given thousands of pounds so that self-gratifying gastronomes can enjoy their guilty pleasures even more – no matter the cost to the rest of the world.

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