Rebuttal of EAT-Lancet Commission Report


Joel Newman of the American Feed Industry Association provided a factual rebuttal of the EAT-Lancet Report. He made a strong logical case for lifting artificial restraints to GM technology and promoted the nutritional value of animal-derived protein. Unfortunately he did not address the core issue responsible for the projected disparity in population growth and food production.


The EAT-Lancet Report produced by a Commission of 37 scientists from 16 nations recommended a drastic shift from animal-derived protein to a vegetable diet in order to feed a burgeoning population anticipated to reach 10 billion by mid-century. This is a classic “become vegetarians or we will all starve” approach placing the onus on OECD nations.


Let’s be politically incorrect and dig deeper into the problem of future starvation.

It is evident that population growth contributing to the extra mouths will be in Africa and specific nations in Asia. Here are some observations relevant to the challenge we apparently face:-


  • If there was meaningful control of population growth in the countries that will be most affected, coupled with education and emancipation of women we would not have to collectively change our diets to any extent. Some of the nations most in need have appalling records of gender exploitation and cruelty to their womenfolk based on tribal and religious imperatives.
  • Africa has seen the effects of post-colonial land use policies that have sharply reduced agricultural productivity. Land redistribution (a euphemism for theft) in Zimbabwe turned the nation from a net exporter of corn into a bankrupt klepto-autocracy unable to feed its people. Now we may be observing a similar developing scenario in the Republic of South Africa. Land redistribution as in East Africa, based on politico-tribal imperatives, resulted in sharply reduced productivity. This was due to subdivision of economically viable farms that previously applied modern technology, fertilizers and improved cultivars with access to agricultural banks. The resulting family-operated small-holdings are simply subsistence units with no excess production to support growing urban populations or export.
  • Competition for resources and specifically water has resulted in tribal-conflicts which detract from efficient land utilization. Farmers cannot plant and reap harvests amid displacement from their lands and ethnic cleansing by warring clans and marauders.
  • In some nations in Africa and Asia with mineral or other resources that could support the rural and urban poor, inefficiency, corruption and gross mismanagement have deprived citizens of money that would otherwise be channeled into education, health and agriculture.



Do-gooders in the EU have been at the forefront of opposing GM and gene-deletion technology that could increase productivity. They have so demonized the approach to enhancing yields, decreasing pesticide use through application of GM, that nations in Africa and specifically, India as an Asian giant, are unwilling to allow farmers the option to advance productivity. Joel Newman is correct in his contention that artificial restraints to production, including application of the ‘precautionary principle’, have impeded growth in productivity of available arable land.


Let us turn the problem of feeding an expanding population on its head. If we do not have the additional three billion population in 30 years and if the nations most affected could improve their productivity we would not have to be concerned over famine and mass starvation. Essentially those in charge of these nations are not making any attempt to improve the long-term wellbeing of their people. Why should we then change our diets and displace our established animal agriculture industry?