"Don’t Fall For “Climate-Friendly” Beef"

"Last year, a major meat brand announced a promising product for people who care about the planet—America’s first “climate-friendly” beef.

U.S. meat behemoth Tyson Foods claims “Brazen Beef” is better for the environment than regular beef because it emits 10 percent less greenhouse gas. It is also the first beef to be certified “climate-friendly” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The label is a big deal for the meat industry as it faces increasing external pressure to reduce its massive carbon footprint. Livestock are responsible for anywhere from 11 to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and climate scientists have warned for decades that the world needs to eat less meat. Even if fossil fuel emissions were stopped today, the world’s current appetite for meat and dairy alone could push warming past the catastrophic 2 degrees Celsius threshold.

So how do we know if climate-friendly beef is real, and not a corporate greenwashing scam? That question led me to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request last year with the USDA. I asked for everything they had on Tyson’s Brazen Beef program, with an emphasis on the scientific data showing that “climate-friendly” beef actually pollutes less than regular beef products.

The USDA responded, but redacted 80 out of 82 pages because it said they contained information protected under the Trade Secrets Act—an exception that allows government agencies to withhold commercial or financial information from public records. The two pages I received contained a single email."

Arielle Samuelson reports for HEATED May 14, 2024.

Source: HEATED, 05/16/2024