Jess Parsons

Jess Parsons

Posted May 22, 2011

Published in Food

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Feeding cows to cows - lest we forget

Read More: animal feed, animal foods, carnivores, diet and health, European Union, farmers, livestock, rainforest, soy, vegans, waste

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It couldn't happen again.  Could it?

This week, the European Union is voting on whether to lift the ban on feeding animal by-products to pigs, chickens and farmed fish.

Why, oh why?

The discussion is not based on any new discoveries or new levels of safety.  Simply:

"...concerns escalate about how the world will continue to feed itself against a backdrop of rapidly inflating food prices and a soaring population. At the moment, animal feed producers import vast quantities of soya from countries in South America, grown on land that could otherwise be used to feed people living there. Demand for soya-based animal feed is also fuelling the destruction of the Amazon rainforest."

In other words, the usual answer:  money.

Who likes the idea?

Even considering this move is shocking.  From New Zealand on SAFE's Facebook page:

"I lived through this in the early 90s on the Isle of Wight UK! All my neighbours were  farmers and had to burn their livestock. We could not go for any of our beautiful walks for a year! The only good thing is it made me a vegetarian living through the horror. It was a most awful time for us all and the poor animals. We were all devastated. Good God have they learnt nothing???"

"We are still seeing symptoms of CJD back from the 80s and it's because I was in mad cow country that I'm not allowed to give blood here. This can't ever happen again."

"I'm not a vegetarian but I think this would be something that would make it a far more palatable option for me."

What a telling point!  Whatever the EU may decide this week, this backward step into filth is not a solution to the food problem.  As a keen vegan activist, I still believe that most people won't decide to give up meat for the sake of the animals or because plants have more antioxidants and fibre than meat.  But this is yet another sign of an inevitable tipping point:  "acceptable" meat is not sustainable.

Even the farmers are unhappy about this proposal.  The marketers may prefer to blame "simplistic" consumer behaviour for the likely failure of this strategy, but in the real world people don't think chickens should eat corn and not ground up animal waste (PAP) just because the media tells them. 

And "many animals are carnivorous"?  It may be news to Rosemary Moon (a food writer and consultant to Waitrose) that these livestock animals are not carnivores any more than humans are (although like humans, they are certainly opportunistic eaters that will eat almost anything available).

What a waste

However, Ms Moon hits a bullseye with

"We simply can't afford to go on wasting food, for humans or animals, in the way we do."

Spot on, Rosemary.  Let's stop wasting food for humans by feeding it to animals.