World Health Organization Drops Its High–Profile Endorsement of the EAT–Lancet Diet

Joel Hastings

British Medical Journal reports that the World Health Organization (WHO), the arm of the United Nations charged with monitoring global health, has dropped its endorsement of the EAT–Lancet Commission’s planetary health diet—a much–ballyhooed, well–publicized attempt at saving the planet through the food we eat.

The organization pulled out of sponsoring a launch event in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 28, after Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy’s ambassador to the United Nations, questioned the diet’s impact on public health. The ambassador stated that radical, drastic limitations on animal livestock production—the commission’s primary recommendation—would cause economic hardship in developing countries. In a press release, the “permanent mission,” as the office is known, also suggested the report was not sufficiently independent, and aimed for nothing less than the “total elimination of the freedom of choice” by consumers.

“A standard diet for the whole planet, regardless of the age, sex, metabolism, general state of health and eating habits of each person, has no scientific justification at all,” Cornado wrote. “Moreover, it would mean the destruction of millenary healthy traditional diets which are a full part of the cultural heritage and social harmony in many countries.”

 

 

The most contentious part of the diet involves livestock, which emit 14.5 percent of the globe’s greenhouse gases, and specifically cows, who release more of those gases than any other farm animal.

The study’s authors contend that meat consumption is expected to continue rising, and if that happens, the amount of heat-trapping methane to enter the atmosphere would be devastating.

But its detractors, including University of California–Davis air quality scientist Frank Mitloehner, say that methane from cows isn’t a big problem in the first place. In fact, critics argue, the legume–and–grain–heavy diet prescribed by the EAT–Lancet Commission would necessitate deforestation for row crops, which would create problems of its own. By Sam Bloch, The New Food Economy, 04/12/19

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