What are the opportunities and threats for dairy as an element in our everyday diets? This key question has been addressed by Professor Hans Mommaas, Director General of the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency. He elaborated on the changing European sector and how cows are being kept nowadays.
On the one hand, dairy plays an important role in human nutrition, especially during childhood (SDG2), and dairy production provides many people with their livelihoods (SDG1). On the other hand, dairy animal feed has a large footprint, dairy production leads to greenhouse gas emissions (SDG13) and it impacts terrestrial biodiversity (SDG15).
Mommaas’ answer is a resource-smart food system. “We need to reward farms properly. Dairy needs to be referred to as a food as opposed to just a commodity and a nutrient. To something that connects us humans to our natural habitat. There is so much more to be communicated about dairy than nutrition, because it is part of livelihoods and sustaining landscapes.”
Rolf Bos, Nutrition and Health Theme Director at TiFN (public-private partnership for research on food and nutrition), replied to Mommaas’ contribution. He pointed out that dairy is not a commodity, but a very widely available, and affordable, nutritious product. In addition, “we should be careful with our products, and not destroy them as that is very damaging for the sector.”
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