The media’s profiling of the Irish livestock sector has been criticized by vice-chair of the Beef Plan Movement (BPM), John Maloney.
Speaking to Agrilandhe said BPM members have expressed deep concern over the “raft of negative and often misleading information being presented to the public regarding agriculture and the livestock sector in Ireland”.
“Two topics, in particular, being presented by certain environmental and interest groups have sought to denigrate the importance of the food we produce.”
“One of the more popular points being made by these groups is that Ireland is a net importer of calories and, therefore, cannot be referred to as a food-producing country.”
This is a reference to a study by the United Nations (UN) food agency in 2016.
“Calories are a measure of energy intake,” he said.
“And, indeed, many of the foods we import are high in calories. An example of one of these imports is sugar.
“Since we closed our sugar industry we now import all our sugar, which has a huge calorie count.
“In fact, 1kg of sugar contains over 150% of the daily calorie requirement of an adult male and nearly 200% for a female.
“We also import high-calorie foods such as confectionery items and heavily processed foods.
“However, we all know calories alone cannot sustain the human body and this is where the real advantage of our meat and dairy sectors come to the fore.”
Maloney pointed out that meat and dairy products are rich in high-quality protein. Ireland produces over 1 million tons of beef, chicken, pigmeat and sheepmeat along with over 8.5 billion litres of milk.
“We produce enough protein to feed over 30 million people,” he explained.
“In addition to this, our meat and dairy are rich in minerals and vitamins, including iron and vitamin B12.”
Maloney then referenced the practice of many referring to highlight the fact that Ireland a high tonnage of grain imports.
“They point out that grains such as soya and wheat are already high in protein and, therefore, could be put to better use by being fed directly to people where we market our meat and dairy.
“This is quite misleading as animal protein is superior to plant protein.
“The digestible indispensable amino-acid score is used to rate the availability of the nine essential amino acids that make up the protein within a certain food type.
“These essential amino acids are critical to human nutrition and foods that contain all nine are considered complete.
“Foods such as beef, chicken and milk are called complete proteins. However, plant-based foods which can often have a high-protein content can be deficient in certain essential amino acids.
“It is important our media presents a balanced and accurate view on how we produce our food,” he said.