Good news about meat

In a recent opinion piece (Chronicle, August 3), retired accountant Russell Eades put the knife into meat, eggs and dairy.

He suggested it would be better for our own health, and that of the planet, if we stuck to a diet of vegetables, nuts and - top of his list for protein alternatives - nutritional yeast and spirulina seaweed.

I'd like to offer an alternative view. Firstly, meat's credentials as a food source.

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Red meat is an excellent source of protein and, if visible fat is trimmed away, is low in total fat and saturated fatty acids.

It's rich in mono-unsaturated and omega 3 fatty acids, iron and zinc, selenium, vitamins D and B, taurine, carnitine, creatine and some endogenous antioxidants.

And 95 per cent of New Zealanders find it delicious.

Raising red meat for human consumption is frequently cited as having significant environmental impacts, including excessive water, energy and land use, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity impacts, etc.

But so much of that information is based on North American and, to a lesser extent, European research and experience, where the industrial feeding of grains on feedlots is the norm.

The New Zealand our animals are well cared for, and they're out on hills and paddocks eating grass.

Yes, plant and horticulture crops emit comparatively insignificant levels of greenhouse gases. But much of New Zealand's farmed topography is not suitable for growing crops suitable for human consumption.

Kiwi sheep and beef farmers have, since the 1990s, made significant productivity and eco-efficiency gains, producing more from less.

Reports commissioned by Beef + Lamb New Zealand show the production of 1kg of New Zealand beef generates 22kg of carbon dioxide-equivalents (a unit of greenhouse gases that includes methane and nitrous oxide), and 1kg of lamb generates 19kg of CO2-e. That compares with global medians of 26.6kg for 1kg of beef and 25.6kg CO2-e for 1kg of lamb.

Since 1990, GHG emissions per kilogram of saleable product have dropped by 40 per cent and nitrate leaching per kilogram of saleable product has declined by 21 per cent.

Farmers are not saying they've done enough to reduce their environmental footprint. As part of the Good Farming Action Plan, launched in June, the sector is pushing for every farmer to have a Farm Environment Plan.

Beef and Lamb NZ expect to be well on the way to carbon neutrality by 2050.

A vital part of New Zealand's prosperity will continue to hinge on our sheep and beef farmers selling premium red meat in domestic and export markets.

GRANT ADKINS, Okoia
Flawed assertion

Readers should check the Hobson's Pledge website to see whether Danny Keenan's representation in his "Brash speaks" piece (Chronicle, August 15) is accurate.

Instead of alleging that the website language has been "carefully coded" to "frighten more than they inform", Dr Keenan should debate the issues raised, which are:

■All New Zealanders should be equal before the law, irrespective of when they or their ancestors arrived in New Zealand;

■The Treaty of Waitangi is not, in any meaningful sense, New Zealand's constitution;

■The Treaty did, however, establish three important points - namely that, in signing the Treaty, Maori chiefs ceded sovereignty to the Crown; in turn the Crown would protect the property rights of all New Zealanders; and all Maori would enjoy the rights and privileges of British subjects;

■The Treaty of Waitangi did not create a "partnership" between Maori and the Crown;

■The Treaty of Waitangi did not establish any "principles" and all references to such "principles" should be removed from legislation.

As a Ngapuhi and Hobson's Pledge co-spokesperson, I say Dr Keenan's assertion that he is able to represent a Maori view is flawed. Maori are not frightened or intimidated by information and knowledge.

CASEY COSTELLO, Co-Spokesperson, Hobson's Pledge
Fluoride's 'safe' dose

In reply to Mr Weber's letter (August 16), there is no scientific paper that says fluoride at .7 parts per million is a neurotoxin.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states only 25 per cent of fluoride is absorbed from sources other than food or drink.

The daily limit for fluoride intake from all sources, for adults, before adverse effects will occur, is 10g. Thus, even the excessive 6 litres per day consumer of water will still only take in a daily "dose" of fluoride that is slightly more than half the upper limit.

Before the upper limit of 10mg could be reached, water toxicity would be the concern, not fluoride.

How many times do the courts need to reject the allegation that fluoridation is forced medication.

Opponents are only saying they don't want it in their water. They demand the water meet their personal chemical specifications.

CHRIS PRICE, Palmerston North
Sanctity of life

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary online, the definition of "sanctity"is "the quality of being very important and deserving of respect".

According to Good Medical Practice, published by the New Zealand Medical Council, "Respecting patients"is presented with gravitas as to how doctors registered in New Zealand should treat patients.

Dr Jay Kuten (Chronicle, August 8) asserts "sanctity of life"has no place in a political, legal or scientific argument.

Human life is precious - however expressed, this sentiment should be at the heart of the current end of life debate.

If I didn't know Dr Kuten's background, his opinion could be ignored.

But he reminds us of his background with every column and touts a medical career of 40 years in which he "comforted the afflicted".

TEDDY MARKS, Whanganui