'Irish dairying is only meeting Asian middle class demands, not helping food security'

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The Irish dairy sector has been accused of fulfilling an Asian middle class demand for infant formula, not helping food security.

Dr. Cara Augustenborg told RTE's Countrywide radio show this morning that our dairy exports of infant formula are only helping a middle class demand from Asia and are not helping world food security.

Ireland is one of the largest producers of infant formula in the world, producing around 15pc of the world's supply, much of which goes to Asian markets.

The Irish-American environmental scientist, climate change lecturer, writer and activist who is based in Ireland and has a PhD from Teagasc, told the show that Irish agriculture must do more to mitigate against climate change.

In light of figures from the Environmental Protection Agency this week that showed Ireland had an increase in Greenhouse Gas emissions, she also said that any increase is going against what we need to do for climate actions and the Government's targets to reduce them by 5pc per year.

IFA President Joe Healy said while there was a 3.5pc increase across the board, agriculture was the sector that has the smallest increase, with transport and energy showing bigger increases.

She challenged IFA President Joe Healy's claims that Ireland can produce beef and dairy in a more environmentally friendly way than other countries, saying that the IFA and farmers should be looking at greater diversification in farming in Ireland.

"We have a Government policy that favours sustainable beef and dairy and less than 1pc of farmers grow vegetables."

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She also said that Ireland should not be looking to compete with the likes of Brazil and Argentina, but looking at our own GHG emissions.

The atmosphere does not care about our efficiencies, she said, just our total carbon output, which we need to get down.

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