Press Release: Friday, 13 November 2020
The One Health – From Soil to Society conference organised by Macra na Feirme, CEJA and Devenish Nutrition and supported by Macra Agricultural Skillnet told of the importance of farmers and farming to the core of human health on the morning of Friday, 13th November 2020. This webinar which doubled as Macra na Feirme’s annual conference was held via Zoom.
The need to bring the measurements of foods impact on human health and the environment was a clear message running throughout the conference.
The risk of simplistic metrics for human nutrition was the key takeaway from the presentation by Professor Alice Stanton from the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland. Professor Stanton demonstrated the risks to human health of ultra-processed products and their replacement of nutrient-dense foods like whole dairy and meat. Conference delegates learned that based on metabolic studies ultra-processed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain.
“The aim of increasing climate resilience and action must be pragmatic and not offshore biodiversity lose or limit our farms’ ability to adapt,” said Macra na Feirme National President Thomas Duffy.
The need for better measurement of farming impact on the climate and moving from gross to net emissions was demonstrated through the Lighthouse Farm at Dowth lands, in presentations given by Dr John Gilliland and Dr Cornelia Grace of Devenish. The farm at Dowth was able through the use of more accurate measurement and new technology including measurement of hedgerows contribution to carbon sequestration through LiDAR to demonstrate the potential for net-zero on beef farms.
In a panel discussion with Minister for State Pippa Hackett, the risks of inaccurate measurement were highlighted by Macra na Feirme National President Thomas Duffy in regards to the aims of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy and the potential for offloading of Europe’s environmental impact to the developing world. Both Minister for State Hackett and President Duffy agreed on the need for greater financial support for farmers using sustainable practices. This was a point which was reiterated to the DG Sante representative Henk Westhoek, by CEJA President Jannes Maes.
“All change and environmental ambition will fail if not underpinned by real support for generation renewal”, said President Duffy, “we must see the 4% of all the National Envelope go directly to young farmers as proposed by the EU parliament.”