WHO pulls out of EAT-Lancet event after criticism from Italy

Lunch vegan plant based food

The controversial EAT-Lancet Commission, which advocates a plant-based diet to promote better human and planetary health, hit a bump recently when the World Health Organization (WHO) backed out of one of the commission’s high-profile public events.

The British Medical Journal reported this week that the WHO withdrew its support for a recent EAT-Lancet “launch” event in Geneva after its Italian ambassador raised concerns about EAT-Lancet’s lack of scientific rigor and the diet’s negative impact on human health and livelihood. The story was also picked up by the Daily Mail.

BMJ: WHO pulls support from initiative promoting global move to plant-based foods.

Daily Mail: World Health Organization pulls support for controversial planetary health diet

According to the BMJ, Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy’s ambassador and permanent representative to the WHO:

…questioned the scientific basis for the diet, which is focused on promoting predominantly plant-based foods and excluding foods deemed unhealthy, including meat and other animal-based foods.

Cornado warned that a global move to such a diet could lead to the loss of millions of jobs linked to animal husbandry, to the production of “unhealthy” foods, and to the destruction of traditional diets which are part of cultural heritage.

In January, we wrote about the release of the sweeping EAT Lancet Report, produced by the 19-member self-appointed commission. One of the report’s main, highly controversial recommendations, was that red meat consumption would have to be cut by 80% to save the planet from climate change.

Diet Doctor: Report: Cut red meat by 80% to save the planet?

Since the release of the report, the privately-funded commission has been embarking on a high-profile world-wide tour, holding large public media events about the publication in cities around the globe. The Geneva event, March 28, went ahead as planned but was sponsored by Norway rather than the
WHO.

While no one is arguing that climate change is not a real threat that requires real solutions, many have criticized the EAT-Lancet report for lacking scientific evidence for its recommendations. The commission instead, critics note, arbitrarily imposed a top-down, ideologically-driven edict about how people should eat that does not reflect optimal nutrition for human health nor the role of well-raised livestock in revitalizing soil and sequestering carbon, which can help reduce the effects of climate change.

On Twitter many commentators have noted that it wasn’t surprising that Italy was the first to raise concerns: food-loving Italians were never going to take “nanny-state nutritional advice” from the commission.

Diet Doctor is eager to be part of a global solution to reduce climate change and to minimize animal suffering. We have written in depth about this complex issue and provided an evidence-based perspective about how livestock, raised correctly, can contribute to improved human health, improved animal welfare, and improved agricultural practices that can actually assist in climate change mitigations. Check out our three-part Green Keto Eater series.

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