USA – A coalition of Latino civil rights leaders, activists and physician has launched a new campaign dubbed #BoycottMeat following increased number of Covid-19 casualties reported from meat processing companies in the United States.
Formed by Joe Enriquez Henry, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Iowa Council 307 President, the #BoycottMeat coalition said that it will push for massive reconfigurations of the US meat industry geared towards protecting the health and safety of workers operating in meat processing plants.
The group noted that nearly 100 meat processing plant workers have died due to COVID-19 and an additional 28,000 have contracted the virus.
While the U.S President Donald Trump had in April this year invoked the Defense Production Act compelling meat processing plants in the United States to remain operational, the group wants federal mandates to improve working conditions and employee healthcare, and a shift toward production of more plant-based protein food.
“We are in a very dangerous period of time for these workers,” said Henry, “Many of these workers are being infected by the virus – COVID-19 – due to unsafe working conditions in these facilities. These facilities have been incubators for the virus due to the closeness of the workers, side-by-side; working on these lines cutting meat at a very high speed.”
“The stressful working conditions… that many of these workers have to endure means that their work environment potentiates transmission of the virus,” stated Milton Mills, M.D. “The bottom line is that we really need to look at what these workers are being subjected to, hopefully close these plants until we can guarantee safety and encourage everyone to adopt a plant-based diet.”
Cultivated meat could transform the food system
At the same time, The Breakthrough Institute, a global research center seeking technological solutions to environmental and human development challenges has called on the US Congress to leverage the alternative protein industry to support an economic recovery in response to Covid-19.
The research center recently released a new report: “Federal Support for Alternative Protein for Economic Recovery and Climate Mitigation,” which calls on lawmakers to direct funds to the alternative protein industry as one of the key industries that will provide jobs and reduce carbon emissions.
According to the report by the research center, federal investment in the alternative protein industry would help ensure that the industry, which could generate over 200,000 jobs in the long-term, does not collapse and continues to innovate and grow.
To support continued R&D, which is essential to the industry’s growth, the report proposes that the congress could create an interagency R&D program and increase Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding.
The Breakthrough Institute estimates that public funding support could generate more that 200,000 jobs in the plant-based food industry alone, which currently supports more than 60,000 higher-than-average paying jobs, providing US$3.6 billion in income each year, in at least 35 different states.
To back the proposition, the Good Food Institute remarked that Covid-19 highlighted that the current meat production system is vulnerable- in the United States, rapid spread of this illness has significantly disrupted meat production and nationwide supply chain.
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