What's in the news right now about environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable beef value chain.


Please keep an eye out this week for our member communications and news releases on the Antimicrobial Stewardship Statement, and please do share them within your network.

In addition, please don't forget to register in time for the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef in Kilkenny, October 9th–12th. Visit grsbeef.org/2018-Global-Conference for all of the latest details.

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Executive Director's Message

GHG emissions from livestock are a regular theme from anti meat activists. This year has seen increased intensity of articles being published that emphasise this aspect of livestock production. Some weeks ago, a new journal article and a number of supportive media and blog articles pointed out that livestock methane is currently being accounted for in a way that exaggerates its contribution to climate change, and proposing a new fairer way to account for it.

However, while there was rigorous science behind that argument, it was not picked up by the mainstream media, while other less well researched papers, lacking scientific evidence, but supporting livestock opponents are quoted endlessly.

During our last board call, a member highlighted one recent article published by the "Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy" (see article HERE). IATP is not an institute in the sense that many may understand it, and the article does not present new research findings, and the comparisons they make between meat and dairy processing companies and oil companies are at the very least misleading, as they include all upstream and downstream livestock emissions. The figures they use for oil and gas companies are taken from this report which is actually much more scientific and informative.

IATP, however, are very selective in how they make their comparisons. The largest fossil fuel company they quote is Exxon with emissions of 577 GtCO2 e, whereas the carbon majors report lists 8 fossil fuel companies with higher emissions, which combined emit more than ten times GtCO2 e than Exxon. Let us also be clear, the Carbon Major Report demonstrates that fossil fuel companies have been responsible for 62% of global industrial GHGs since the industrial revolution, and many of the emissions included in that figure are now being attributed by IATP to milk and meat processors.

While it is not clear how this IATP report was funded, it is clear that they have deliberately been selective in the information taken from Carbon Majors Report to make milk and meat producers appear to be equally or even greater contributors to GHG emissions, which is manifestly false. It does not require a huge leap of imagination to understand who the beneficiaries of such a report might be, though it does leave the question of why IATP would be willing to put their name to it.

IATP's use of FAO stat figures is also selective. Total emissions from beef and dairy in the USA have declined since 1975, while production of both has increased (2% increase in beef with 46% decrease in emissions, 46% increase in milk with 19% decrease in emissions) (FAO figures provided by Dr Sara Place from NCBA), whereas in the fossil fuel sector a huge acceleration in the extraction of fossil fuels has doubled their contribution to global warming since 1988 (Carbon Majors Report.)

Many GRSB members have been working and continue to work to improve all aspects of the sustainability of beef production. Considerable improvements have been made in the last decades, and commitments have been made to reduce emissions going forward. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the IATP article is that while the organisation claims to support family farmers around the world, the impact of an article such is this leads to condemnation of beef cattle producers around the world, who are still overwhelmingly family operations.

Susan Macmillan of ILRI has written eloquently on the need to recognise the role of livestock in livelihood and food systems around the world, and this recent article specifically discusses the need to counter the increasing anti–livestock rhetoric in western media.

Macmillan says "To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, some Western media pundits appear to know the (environmental) price of everything but nothing of the (real) value farm animals bring to millions of impoverished people."

Thank you.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

For those of you who missed these articles the last time I posted them, here are number explaining why the treatment of ruminant Methane emissions in climate change discussions has been incorrect and should be modified.
Short Term Climate Pollutants
New Methane Emissions Metric Proposed for Climate Change Policy

Oxford Martin School | June 4, 2018
A new paper published today has outlined a better way to think about how methane and other gases contribute to greenhouse gas emissions budgets. This is an important step towards evaluating the warming from methane emissions when developing strategies to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

"We don't actually need to give up eating meat to stabilise global temperatures," says Professor Myles Allen who led the study (meat production is a major source of methane). "We just need to stop increasing our collective meat consumption. But we do need to give up dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Every tonne of CO2 emitted is equivalent to a permanent increase in the methane emission rate. Climate policies could be designed to reflect this."

"Under current policies, industries that produce methane are managed as though that methane has a permanently worsening effect on the climate," says Professor Frame. "But this is not the case. Implementing a policy that better reflects the actual impact of different pollutants on global temperatures would give agriculture a fair and reasonable way to manage their emissions and reduce their impact on the environment."

A New Way To Assess 'Global Warming Potential' of Short–lived Pollutants
Dr. Michelle Cain, Carbon Brief | June 7, 2018
Dr Michelle Cain in a science and policy research associate on the Oxford Martin School's programme on climate pollutants at the University of Oxford. "In a new paper published in npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, my co–authors and I address one of the stocktake's key stumbling blocks – the treatment of all greenhouse gases as "CO2–equivalent", using a metric known as "global warming potential" (GWP). This misrepresents the impact of short–lived climate pollutants, such as methane, on future warming.

We show that modifying the use of GWP, so that it accounts for the differences between short– and long–lived gases, can better link emissions to warming. This means that the true impact of an emission pathway on global temperature can be easily assessed. For countries with high methane emissions – due to, say, agriculture – this can make a huge difference to how their progress in emission reductions is judged."

Why Methane Should Be Treated Differently Compared to Long–lived Greenhouse Gases
David Frame and Adrian Henry Macey, The Conversation | June 12, 2018
In climate policy, we routinely encounter the idea of "CO–equivalence" between different sorts of gases, and many people treat it as accepted and unproblematic. Yet researchers have debated for decades about the adequacy of this approach. To summarise a long train of scientific papers and opinion pieces, there is no perfect or universal way to compare the effects of greenhouse gases with very different lifetimes.

This point was made in the first major climate report produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) way back in 1990. Those early discussions were loaded with caveats: global warming potentials (GWP), which underpin the traditional practice of CO–equivalence, were introduced as "a simple approach … to illustrate the difficulties inherent in the concept".

The problem with developing a concept is that people might use it. Worse, they might use it and ignore all the caveats that attended its development. This is, more or less, what happened with GWPs as used to create CO₂–equivalence. The science caveats were there, and suggestions for alternatives or improvements have continued to appear in the literature. But policymakers needed something (or thought they did), and the international climate negotiations community grasped the first option that became available, although this has not been without challenges from some countries.

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McDonald's® Canada Will Be The First Company to Serve Canadian Beef from Farms and Ranches Certified Sustainable by Leading Industry Experts
CRSB | July 11, 2018
In a major nod to the quality of Canadian beef, McDonald's Canada announced today that it will be the first company in Canada to serve Canadian beef from certified sustainable farms and ranches, beginning with its Angus line–up.

McDonald's® Canada will be the first company to serve Canadian beef from farms and ranches certified sustainable by leading industry experts.

This means that for the first time ever, McDonald's 3 million daily guests will soon be able to enjoy Angus beef sourced from farms and ranches certified sustainable according to world–class standards set by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB). More specifically, over the next 12–months, more than 20–million Angus burgers will be sourced according to the CRSB standards.

People will also soon see a new Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) certification logo alongside McDonald's Mighty Angus® line–up on the menu.

This is all possible because McDonald's Canada has positioned itself to meet the requirements of the CRSB's Certified Sustainable Framework. The CRSB Sustainable Beef Production and Processing Standards include more than 60 indicators across five principles for beef sustainability and are upheld by–on–site certification audits.

Projects Survey CRSB Seeking Feedback to Coordinate Continuous Improvement Projects for Beef Sustainability
Brenna Grant, CRSB
CRSB is seeking feedback to help coordinate continuous improvement projects across Canada that align with its Principles of Sustainability.

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) has a vision to be the go–to forum for sustainability conversations. Part of this work includes communicating the continuous improvement of the Canadian beef industry's sustainability. Recognizing that there are multiple players in this field, CRSB has a role in communication and coordination. In order to support improvements in future updates of the National Beef Sustainability Assessments (NBSA), CRSB is looking to profile projects that build on the following goals identified in the National Beef Sustainability Strategy.


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UK–Wide Initiative Seeks to Highlight Benefits of Red Meat and Debunk Myths
FarmingUK | July 23, 2018
Agricultural organisations across the UK are uniting in a new initiative which will see them work together to communicate the benefits of red meat.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) Meat Promotion Wales and AHDB will work together to highlight how red meat can play a part in a balanced diet. The initiative is being financed as part of a £2 million fund of red meat levies ring–fenced for collaborative projects.

This arrangement is in place while a long–term solution is sought on the issue of levies being collected at point of slaughter in England, for animals which have been reared in Scotland or Wales. This is the first time the three organisations – which each have their own health and education programmes – have delivered a united programme of health activity behind beef, lamb and pork.

The 8 Attributes of Successful Sustainability Leaders
Bob Langert, GreenBiz | July 23, 2018
I'm back from a break to continue my column. My leave allowed me to finish my book, "The Battle to Do Good: Inside McDonald's Sustainability Journey" (Emerald Publishing, due to publish in January). Not until now, as I completed the last edits of the book, did I realize the overriding importance of the art of "how" leaders make change happen.

That's why I plan to feature interviews with today's sustainability leaders that probe the "how" of sustainability. Sure, the "what" is important, but I've seen a lot of great "what" ideas go nowhere. It's how you get the "what" done that matters most.

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