Channel 4’s “Big British Beef Battle” reported to OFCOM
Several complaints have now been lodged with media watchdog OFCOM including from the Defra-sponsored Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). This is important because Ade Adepitan is a high-profile celebrity with wide influence, and yet he’s presenting a picture to consumers that’s based on flawed information on which they may base dietary choices that could affect their health.
The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan doesn’t hold back in her condemnation of the programme, saying that its “attempt to highlight the environmental impact of beef is totally clueless. It’s stupid, shouty and patronising”.
BMPA’s Sustainability Manager, Lucas Daglish explains why Ms Mangan might have been so put-off by the content. He says: “In my opinion it’s a poorly researched and thin argument for removing beef from the UK diet and lacks any awareness of the issues and trade-offs that need to be considered.
“There is little thought or content given to the nutritional benefits of beef consumption for vulnerable groups or the role grazing livestock have in improving soil health, improving biodiversity, reducing the use of chemical fertilizers etc which underpins the latest regenerative agriculture trends.
“It appears that most of the statistics used in the programme are weak and inaccurate, for example beef GHG emissions (60kg of CO2e per KG of beef) are global averages (Poore and Nemecek 2018) and exclude any soil carbon sequestration for grassland. Nor is their any mention of marginal farmland not suited to arable cultivation that should be used as grazing for food production. It’s disappointing that such a badly put together programme was broadcast by Channel 4”.
For a comprehensive and balanced argument, we’d recommend Nicolette Hahn Niman. She went from being a vegetarian college student to an environmental lawyer and published “Defending Beef” in 2014.