Monday 25 October 2010

Who Wants To Be A Scientist? Just Phone A Friend

This article piqued my interest the other day.

Wholesale changes to the nation’s diet, with a move towards vegetarian food and away from beef and cheese, have been recommended by Government advisers.

A report commissioned by the Food Standards Agency suggests radical changes to what we eat and even how we cook.

Out would go beef, cheese, sugary foods and drinks such as tea, coffee and cocoa. In would come vegetables and pulses, together with yoghurt.

The FSA says the switch is necessary as part of a move to a diet that is low in greenhouse gases (GHG), which are associated with climate change.
Now, before we begin screaming in unison "if you take away my beef, people will die, motherfuckers!" it's worth counting to ten and noting that it is a Mail story and perhaps therefore best treated with caution.

To be fair to the Mail, they did point out that the study was compiled by Al Gore's tainted useful idiots over at the University of East Anglia, but it's still worth further investigation considering that it is being touted as a recommendation to government and so - as readers of this blog will know all too well - will be referenced by dozy MPs for the foreseeable future.

And it seems that the Mail were, indeed, economic with the facts. It wasn't just compiled by the UEA, it also drew 'evidence' from experts cherry-picked by them ... if not actually employed at the UEA itself.

Review authors:

- Dr Iain Lake (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Dr Asmaa Abdelhamid (School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, and School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Dr Lee Hooper (Diet and Health, School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia)

Review co-authors and experts (external to the FSA):

- Professor Graham Bentham (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Dr Alistair Boxall (EcoChemistry Research Group, University of York / Central Services Laboratory)
- Dr Alizon Draper (Centre for Public Health Nutrition, University of Westminster)
- Professor Sue Fairweather-Tait (School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia)
- Professor Mike Hulme (School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia)
- Professor Paul Hunter (School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia)
- Dr Gordon Nichols (Centre for Infections, Health Protection Agency)
- Professor Keith Waldron (Institute of Food Research)
It was the science equivalent of being asked a question and phoning a friend, a fact confirmed by the procedure employed by the FSA as revealed by the authors.

It appears to have gone something like this:

1) Government asks for advice.
2) The FSA issues a tender specifying a 6 week turnaround.
3) The UEA ring around a few pals and see if their diary is free for a bit of easy money.
4) The UEA enter a dirt cheap bid seeing as they have old reports lying around (some of which they wrote themselves) and the 'experts' they have chosen are in the next office.
5) They have a chat with each other and send 111 pages to the FSA.
6) They get paid.
7) The report is a worthless piece of propagandised garbage.
8) You paid for it.
9) You also paid for the FSA to commission it.

And, err, that's it. No new research; no public involvement; no engaging with food producers or other interests; nothing but people already committed to advocating vegan diets exhorting government to force you to stop eating meat.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that we paid for this crap? I did? Good.

Remind me. Why are the FSA being kept on again, exactly?


Sir Henry Morgan said...

That list of names reads like a menu to me, if they dare fuck around with what I eat.

Curmudgeon said...

Yes, another quango that should be scrapped - or at least confined to combating adulteration and misleading labelling.

Anonymous said...

The reward for any government implementing this ?
Meat tax.
You see it's feudal in nature.
The peasents eat pulses, beans, vegetables, (below the salt).
The robber barons eat meat (above the salt ?
Just a guess.
Green is in a way a return to feudalism it's why royalty likes the idea.

George Speller said...

Apparently the government "will leave the FSA to focus on food safety"
Like making sure they don't adulterate stuff with aspartame and so on.

They are supposed to be about SAFETY not ning-nang-nonging bong-addled food fads.

Anonymous said...

if they take away my beef, people will die, motherfuckers!

Tarquin said...

aww anon beat me to it

however, the bloody hell are they having my cup of tea

What's the point in living if all we get is to survive on pulses - might as well be a medieval peasant

appreciate your points about it being the Mail, and a load of bollocks, but it's good to rant

banned said...

You would think that the University Of East Anglia would be keeping its head down after being damaged by Climategate but we all know tht this years recommendation by Govt. advisors ("oh no, it's not a policy, we are just looking at it") becomes next decades done and dusted accepted custom and practise for which the science is settled.

They might want to think about pulses again, like beans they encourage farting = methane = Climate Change; er, I forgot, they don't do Climate Change anymore, we're supposed to worry about Biodiversity now, or is it nuclear weapons, it's so confusing.

JuliaM said...

"They are supposed to be about SAFETY not ning-nang-nonging bong-addled food fads."

Clearly, that message hasn't sunk in yet.

Anonymous said...

From anon 25 October 2010 22:43

Their EUSSR scum.
That's why.
Obvious from the Pravda report.
Note "Europe wide".

More recently, the FSA has led calls for the Europe-wide introduction of a traffic light system requiring food companies to label the front of their products with red, amber or green symbols to denote the amounts of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar contained per serving.

RobT said...

One name in your list stood out like a sore thumb, Professor Mike Hulme, usually quite prominent on the "warmist" side of the Climate Change debate.
He has also championed "Post-Nor
mal Science" for some years.
Founding Director of the Tyndall Centre and Professor of Climate Change at UEA.