An Taisce has overstepped the mark in encouraging schoolchildren to reduce their meat and dairy intake.
Overall, I welcome the Green Schools’ initiative launched last week but the lesson plan around diet suggested by An Taisce contradicts the advice given by Government.
Advice on nutrition is the responsibility of the Department of Health, which says that meat and dairy, which are rich sources of protein and calcium, are essential for a balanced, healthy diet.
The proposed lesson plan by An Taisce is also completely at odds with the EU School Milk Scheme, which is supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in conjunction with the National Dairy Council.
The School Milk Scheme is aligned with Healthy Ireland, the cross-Government national strategy for improving health and well-being. An Taisce’s approach is in danger of giving mixed messages in the classroom.
Also farmers are being unfairly scapegoated at a time when they are leading the way on climate action.
The EU Joint Research Centre Report of 2010 found that Ireland is the most carbon-efficient country in the European Union per unit of dairy production and the fifth most carbon-efficient producer of beef per kilogramme.
Farmers are fully engaging with Climate Action. There needs to be a balanced, inclusive approach to our moves towards greener practices. Nobody should feel targeted.
The Government is supporting farmers by offering grants towards greener production, like the latest energy-efficient milk pumps.
Top-line percentage figures for agricultural carbon emissions in Ireland create a distorted perception because we have a small population and very little heavy industry compared with a large agricultural sector.
Extensive grassland systems, such as we have in Ireland, are internationally recognised as producing the lowest carbon emissions.