[Diggers350] Re: Meat: a Benign Extravagance - new book by Simon Fairlie

Simon Fairlie chapter7 at tlio.org.uk
Wed Sep 22 00:43:37 BST 2010

Dear Tony

You're tilting at the wrong man. Read the book


PS I am a dairyman. Beef is a byproduct.

On 21 Sep 2010, at 00:09, Alison Banville wrote:

> The Knight With a Drooping Lance
> Never place people on pedestals, says Tony Wardle, for the taller  
> you build
> them, the greater the height your heroes have to defecate on you
> A latter-day Don Quixote, tilting at the windmills of imaginary  
> environmental
> and political horrors, astride his trusty steed Rocinante (aka the  
> Guardian).
> That’s how the Right perceive George Monbiot. Truth is, he’s  
> been a voice of
> sanity on political and environmental issues for years and has an  
> enviable track
> record of book writing, journalism and action.
> But - and it’s a big but – he never mentioned the devastating  
> impact on the
> planet of livestock production for meat and dairy.
> I once asked his ex-girlfriend (now there’s a conversation  
> stopper) why? Her
> answer was instant: “George loves his meat too much – you’ll  
> never get him to
> give that up!” Always one for a challenge, I started feeding  
> information to him
> and then, in 2002, it seemed I’d struck gold as George’s column  
> said:“Veganism
> is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world’s most  
> urgent social
> justice issue.”
> That article has been circulated around the animal movement ever  
> since like some
> holy grail. Then, on September 6, 2010, George quietly urinated on  
> this burning
> admiration: “I was wrong about veganism. Let them eat meat –  
> but farm it
> properly.” By properly he means stop feeding animals grain and  
> give them food we
> don’t eat. Â
> He starts with pigs - the perfect waste-disposal systems, turning  
> dross into
> meat. There is enough food waste and crop residues to produce  
> 800,000 tons of
> pork annually, he says, clearly working on the claim that we waste  
> something
> like one-third of the food we buy.
> Think of the state of the stuff you throw away as being inedible.  
> Now imagine it
> sitting in a bin for perhaps a week or more before being collected  
> and mixed
> with other people’s putrefying, maggot-ridden meat and fish  
> scraps. Imagine the
> logistics and fuel use of collecting these separate little parcels of
> putrefaction, boiling them up and redistributing them to individual  
> farms as
> heavy, liquid feed - swill.
> The reason swill isn’t used any more is an over-reaction to BSE  
> and foot and
> mouth scares, he says. Truth is, there was very little swill in use  
> even before
> this for the simple reason that pigs don’t thrive on this  
> unbalanced, unnatural
> filth.
> He claims that a pig’s natural diet includes a fair bit of meat,  
> which is again
> untrue. Pigs are predominantly vegetarian rooters with a few  
> invertebrates,
> worms and amphibians thrown in - a tiny proportion of the total.
> The claim is made to justify the insane recommendation that pigs  
> should be fed
> meat and bone meal “so long as it is properly rendered.” How do  
> you render meat
> and bone, George, to ensure that prions are destroyed? You can’t  
> because they
> can withstand virtual incineration. These organisms, at the very  
> frontiers of
> science, have infected not just cattle with BSE but 28 other  
> species, including
> humans.
> Their discoverer, Nobel Prize winner Professor Stanley Prusiner, is  
> currently
> researching whether they may be behind the current explosion of  
> Alzheimer’s
> disease in meat-eating countries across the world.
> George then turns to cattle and for them recommends: “straw,  
> stovers and grass
> from fallows and rangelands.” Stovers (dry corn leaves) and straw  
> are
> nutritionally almost valueless and unpalatable, which is why horses  
> don’t eat
> the straw bedding in their stables. Even on mixed animal/arable  
> farms you can
> see growing mountains of straw bales for which farmers have no use  
> and animals
> won’t eat.
> Grass fallow land? Now there’s a blast from the past  –   
> it’s a distant
> agricultural memory. You won’t find enough fallow land to feed a  
> hutch of hungry
> rabbits. And rangelands? All over the world - from the USto the Far  
> East, South
> Americato Africaand Australia– rangelands are seriously degraded  
> from
> overgrazing, causing species extinction and soil erosion. Some 72  
> per cent of
> all arid and semi-arid rangelands are on the way to becoming desert  
> – and they
> make up one-third of the planet’s land surface.
> He then uses these grossly inaccurate claims to rewrite the well- 
> researched
> science on conversion rates – how many kgs of vegetable protein  
> it takes to
> produce one kg of meat protein. It magically transforms from the  
> 17:1 in the
> case of beef, established by Loma Linda and Amsterdamuniversities,  
> into 2:1.
> It follows that all George’s other assumptions built on this  
> false premise are
> equally nonsensical.
> Next comes water, with the claim that we have stupidly included all  
> the rain
> that falls on any given pasture in arriving at the proposition that  
> it takes
> 100,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef. You might have,  
> George, but I
> haven’t.
> My figures vary but are taken from peer-reviewed research and are  
> based on all
> the water used in meat production; grazing, fodder growing,  
> slaughter and
> preparation. They also include the 60 per cent of all the world’s  
> agricultural
> land that is irrigated (it’s only Californiathat uses irrigation,  
> according to
> George).
> Take a little aeroplane ride across the Western States, George, and  
> you’ll see
> that every field you traverse is perfectly circular. Why? Because  
> they are boom
> irrigated by pumping up water from the Ogallala aquifer and further  
> South by
> extracting it from Lake Meadand other huge reservoirs – all of  
> which are drying
> up. The bulk of these fields grow water-greedy fodder and is why 36  
> US States
> face severe water shortages within five years, a problem repeated  
> all over the
> world. Â
> Next under attack is the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation for its  
> “daft” claim
> that livestock produce 18 per cent of greenhouse gases. A 400 page  
> report with
> 666 references - daft it isn’t! In fact it is supported by
> CranfieldUniversitywhich has done its own research (How Low Can We  
> Go?) and
> comes to almost exactly the same figure. They’re both wrong,  
> according to
> George, for stupidly blaming deforestation on cattle ranching when  
> logging is
> the true cause.
> Timber taken by loggers isn’t destroyed but sawn up and used in  
> products which
> can last for decades. The CO2 emissions come from torching the  
> vegetation that
> remains - shrubs and low-level plants, ferns and saplings, palms,  
> mid-level and
> non target trees, vines and epiphytes. Loggers have no need to do  
> this; it’s
> done to make the land ready for cattle ranching. The soil  
> eventually turns to
> near desert through the usual mechanisms of over grazing and agro  
> chemicals.
> So in fact, the true figure is higher than 18 per cent because the  
> vital carbon
> sinks provided by new forest growth and healthy soil are both  
> destroyed,
> reducing the planet’s ability to absorb future CO2.
> And so it goes on, scientifically bereft claims which George’s  
> grabs from a
> single book and stuffs himself with them greedily in a monstrous  
> act of self
> justification so he can continue to eat meat. The book is Meat: A  
> Benign
> Extravagance, by ex-beef farmer Simon Fairlie.
> The most depressing aspect of Monbiot’s article is that he turns  
> on its head the
> advice he has been proffering for years – demand, resist, act,  
> take control,
> call to account. With a stroke of his pen, consumers are turned  
> into supine,
> powerless bystanders waiting for global changes which are entirely  
> out of their
> hands and require such extraordinary international co-operation  
> that they could
> never happen. And even if they did, would not work.
> Meantime, environmental catastrophes gather like huge, black clouds  
> on the
> horizon, threatening the lives of billions. No matter how arcane  
> George’s
> claims, the answer is extremely simple and puts you in control –  
> distance
> yourself immediately from these disasters and refuse to consume  
> animal products
> and proselytise your decision. And that includes you, George!
> The last word has to go that Bedfordshire-based shrine of  
> capitalist learning,
> Cranfield. On global warming it says that the Government has no  
> hope of reaching
> its essential targets for CO2 reduction unless we adopt a  
> vegetarian diet!
> So George, dust off your armour, get back on your white charger,  
> straighten out
> your lance, avoid the windmills and ride into battle against the  
> real baddies
> before we all become victims of your friendly fire.    Â
> Tony Wardle
> Associate Director
> tony at viva.org.uk
> Viva!
> 8 York Court
> Wilder Street
> BristolBS2 8QH
> 0117 944 1000
> www.viva.org.uk
> www.vegetarian.org.uk
> www.factoryfarming.org.uk
> www.savethekangaroo.com
> www.tonywardle.co.uk
> ------------------------------------
> Diggers350 - an e-mail discussion/information-share list for  
> campaigners and members of THE LAND IS OURS landrights network  
> based in the UK http://www.tlio.org.uk
> The list was originally concerned with the 350th anniversary of The  
> Diggers (& still is concerned with their history). The Diggers  
> appeared at the end of the English Civil war with a noble mission  
> to make the earth 'a common treasury for all'. In the spring of  
> 1999 there were celebrations to remember the Diggers vision and  
> their contribution.
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWk9rRJsk5I
> Simon Fairlie still produces The Land magazine every 6 months or so.
> Subsription is £18 (£15 unwaged) or £4 for a single edition
> Contributions are welcome http://www.thelandmagazine.org.uk/
> You can find out more about the Diggers and see illustrations at:  
> http://www.bilderberg.org/land/
> Brendan Boal from the Climate Camp would like me to point out that  
> Bilderberg.org is my private web site and as such is not officially  
> part of The Land Is Ours.
> And neither is this web site: http://www.downingstreetmemo.com/ 
> memos.htmlYahoo! Groups Links

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list