November 30, 2022

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New food advice will weaken Norway's self-sufficiency

New food advice will weaken Norway’s self-sufficiency

Before the coronavirus outbreak and the war in Ukraine, food security may have been a somewhat distant concept to many.

Self-sufficiency is now a concern of most Norwegians, according to the Anmalya report “The State of Meat 2022” published on Thursday.

Animalia is a trade organization owned by Nordura and the Meat and Poultry Trade Association.

However, Animalia believes that Norway’s food security could be threatened by the new food advisory. The Nordic Council of Ministers has decided to incorporate sustainability into these recommendations, which will be finalized by June 2023.

– One of the headlines in Animalia’s report warns that new dietary advice could have major consequences for agriculture.

Cattle production: In 2022, 12,702 cattle herds are registered in Norway. Illustration taken in 2017 at a farm in Vestfossen, Øvre Eiker municipality in Viken. Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB
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One half

The industry body fears that the concept of sustainability will often be defined in terms of climate and the environmental impact of production – as in Denmark.

According to Animalia, if Norwegian councils become like Danish councils, they will correspond to recommendations for Norwegians:

  • Cut today’s meat consumption in half, which would cut meat production in half – because Norway exports so little meat.
  • Cut eggs in half
  • Reduce consumption of dairy products by approximately 60 percent

This would correspond to reducing Norway’s level of self-sufficiency from around 46 percent to 28 percent, the report says.

“16,000 Human Years May Be Disappeared”

The industry body also argues that 74 percent of employment in agriculture is related to meat and dairy production.

Figures from the NIBIO Research Institute show that if consumption of red meat were to be reduced by 45 percent, about 30 percent of today’s agricultural land would be completely diverted from food production.

“Then 16,000 human-years would be lost in the livestock production value chain,” the report points out.

– Such a change does not take into account social and economic sustainability in the Norwegian context (…) Animalia further writes that maintaining a cultural landscape and a geographically dispersed population is important for a sustainable society.

They promote the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NRR), a collaborative group that prepares new dietary recommendations that include a holistic and geographical perspective on sustainability.

– Otherwise, the result could be a proposal to drastically reduce Norwegian food production and increase dependence on production in other countries. We should not end up with a food advisory that reduces Norway’s self-sufficiency and food security, write the report’s authors.

– Great capacity

The environmental organization Framtiden i være hände strongly disagrees with Animalia’s decision.

– It’s just nonsense that new food advice threatens Norway’s food security. Anja Bakken Riise, president of Framtiden i våre hände, said in a written statement to Dagbladet that Norway has great potential to produce more grains, vegetables and plant-based foods.

Reduce meat consumption: The leader of the future is in our hands, Anja Bacon Rice.  Photo: Mariam Bhatt / NTB

Reduce meat consumption: The leader of the future is in our hands, Anja Bacon Rice. Photo: Mariam Bhatt / NTB
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Instead, he believes that what threatens Norwegian food security is “our adherence to a pro-meat agricultural policy”.

– 94% of agricultural subsidies go to animal husbandry and over the years we have been producing more meat, eggs and milk of many kinds. At the same time, we import more and more of the vegetables, grains and fruits we eat.

So Bacon Rice believes that eating a more plant-based diet is like a kinder egg:

– We meet dietary guidelines, meet climate goals and increase levels of self-sufficiency. We need a new curriculum for agricultural policy that ensures we make the best use of our topsoil and that Norwegian farmers profit from growing the food we need to eat more of!

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