Former UN Workers Accuse Agrilobby of Inti­mi­dation Over Landmark Report on Methane's Impact on Climate Change

23 November 2023

Former officials of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations were censored, sabotaged and undermined after releasing several reports on the share of agribusiness in global greenhouse gas emissions, The Guardian reports.

In 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published the report Livestock's Long Shadow which states that the agricultural sector was responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions at the time. This report caused a lot of controversy and sparked the creation of popular documentaries such as Meat the Truth, produced by the scientific bureau of the Dutch Party for the Animals (the Nicolaas G. Pierson Foundation (NGPF)). But it also sent shockwaves through the meat industry.

Former head of FAO's livestock policy, Henning Steinfeld, says they were under pressure from all sides. The major meat-producing countries, as well as the private sector and the large-scale meat, feed, and dairy producers, rebelled against the report. According to Steinfield, FAO management tried to dilute references about the damage caused by the meat industry in 2009. Meat-producing countries are also said to have exerted pressure to leave certain research reports unpublished and employees were apparently put under internal pressure, with consequences for their careers.

Despite growing awareness and scientific evidence that meat and dairy consumption has a major impact on the carbon footprint of many countries, politicians are extremely reluctant to take action. The Guardian writes that The Netherlands is one of the few countries that has announced that it wants to reduce the number of animals in the livestock industry (although officially because of the resulting reduction of nitrogen emissions). The Dutch Party for the Animals has been advocating for the shrinkage of livestock farming since its inception: by now, many Dutch parties have adopted this position in their election manifestos.

Esther Ouwehand, party leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals: "We are at a tipping point for major changes regarding animals, climate, nature and the environment. For years, conservative forces such as the agribusiness lobby, vested interest parties and politicians have resisted. Fortunately, we are almost at the point where everyone understands that this has become a losing battle. Radical change is just around the corner."