Despite having support from some of the UK’s top restaurants and Friends of the Earth, MP Rob Flello’s Sustainable Livestock Bill failed to get through UK Parliament on Friday.
According to Friends of the Earth, The Bill – which had support from six of the UK’s top ten leading restaurants – would have helped to stop UK meat and dairy production destroying vast swathes of South American forest and wildlife. Backing the bill, were restaurants Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons (Great Milton, Oxfordshire), L’Enclume (Cartmel, Cumbria), Restaurant Nathan Outlaw (Rock, Cornwall), Restaurant Sat Bains (Nottingham), Pied-à-Terre (London) and The Square (London). The Bill was also backed by leading restaurant Latymer (Bagshot).
British factory farms rely on massive quantities of cheap soy imported from South America to feed their animals, but to produce enough soy to meet this demand, swathes of rainforest and grasslands are being destroyed every year, with disastrous consequences for local people and wildlife. Friends of the Earth claim that 90 per cent of the South American Atlantic Forest – home to 20,000 plant species – has already been destroyed, much of it for soy farming. Soy plantations in South America are dependent on, and driven by, factory farming in the UK and Europe.
A recently conducted opinion poll, has revealed that 62% of people believe that food companies should be more responsible for the impacts of their livestock products and 59% of people said they would be prepared to eat better quality meat to protect the environment.
With global meat production set to more than double by 2050, it is clear that action must be taken to prevent further destruction of our natural environment and this means farming of meat and dairy in a more planet-friendly way and producing less of it, says Friends of the Earth. As the UK population presently eats more than three times the amount of meat recommended by the World Health Organisation, this would make a shift in attitudes and diet essential, with the public taking positive action to choose a healthier diet, lower in meat and dairy.
The UK Government has conceded that issues raised by the Bill do need to be addressed and it has committed to attend a conference on the issues next year and to produce a report.
Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said:
“The massive level of public support for this law shows that people in the UK don’t want the food they eat to trash the planet. By failing to support the new law, the Government has dealt a blow to the people who want to keep the rainforests off their plates – and the farmers that want to rear animals that are born, bred and fed British.
“This is not the end of the fight – we will keep working to make sure the Government keeps the promises it made today,” he concluded.