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Power on the plate : how industry upholds consumption of animal products

Matthies, Colin LU (2017) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20171
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Background: Current consumption levels of animal products (APs) are unsustainable but measures to reduce their consumption are lacking. Simultaneously, APs are widely perceived as healthy which hinders their substitution with other foods. The AP-industry might influence AP consumption as they have the necessary financial means, the interest and the organizational capacity.
Objective: To investigate how the AP-industry influences AP consumption. The focus lays on hidden industry-influence concerning political regulations and health perceptions of APs.
Methodology: Three cases exemplify industry-influence on regulations and one case on science and media concerning health. Building on the last case, a systematic science review was... (More)
Background: Current consumption levels of animal products (APs) are unsustainable but measures to reduce their consumption are lacking. Simultaneously, APs are widely perceived as healthy which hinders their substitution with other foods. The AP-industry might influence AP consumption as they have the necessary financial means, the interest and the organizational capacity.
Objective: To investigate how the AP-industry influences AP consumption. The focus lays on hidden industry-influence concerning political regulations and health perceptions of APs.
Methodology: Three cases exemplify industry-influence on regulations and one case on science and media concerning health. Building on the last case, a systematic science review was conducted to test whether the AP-industry influences science. Moreover, a media review investigated the prevalence of industry-influenced-studies in popular online articles. The analyses of all cases and reviews is framed by Lukes’ theory of power. More specifically, the concept of Doubt-Making guides the analyses of the most hidden form of power.
Results: Three cases revealed that the AP-industry uses lobbying and lawsuits as well as influence on key decision-makers to prevent regulations. The other case suggested an influence on science as well as popular media. This was confirmed by the science review which showed that industry-studies were significantly more likely than independent studies to show conclusions favourable to the AP-industry. Furthermore, the media review indicated that industry-influenced-studies do support popular articles that are in favour of APs. In addition to influencing contend, the AP-industry is shifting the health debate to nutrients and away from deadly diseases.
Discussion: Industry-influence on science and media improves people’s health perceptions about APs leading to higher consumption. Moreover, retarding regulations keeps APs available and at low costs which increases consumption too. Additionally, the AP-industry uses advertisement and communication techniques that further enhance AP consumption. Thereby, AP consumption reaches unsustainable high levels which increase the financial means of the AP-industry. Thus, the AP-industry becomes more powerful and therewith even more effective. Hence, for reducing AP consumption, politicians, consumers, health advocacies, scientist and civil society should collaborate to lessen industry-power. Sustainability Science could play an important role in connecting this potential alliance of actors.
Conclusion: The AP-industry upholds consumption by fighting regulations through lobbying, lawsuits and influence on key decision-makers. Moreover, industry influences health perceptions by supporting science that later fosters favourable media articles. Actors that strive for reducing AP consumption should take those industry strategies into account. (Less)
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author
Matthies, Colin LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
funding effect, meat, doubt, sustainability science, lobbying
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2017:008
language
English
id
8912311
date added to LUP
2017-06-08 15:23:14
date last changed
2017-06-08 15:23:14
@misc{8912311,
  abstract     = {Background: Current consumption levels of animal products (APs) are unsustainable but measures to reduce their consumption are lacking. Simultaneously, APs are widely perceived as healthy which hinders their substitution with other foods. The AP-industry might influence AP consumption as they have the necessary financial means, the interest and the organizational capacity. 
Objective: To investigate how the AP-industry influences AP consumption. The focus lays on hidden industry-influence concerning political regulations and health perceptions of APs.
Methodology: Three cases exemplify industry-influence on regulations and one case on science and media concerning health. Building on the last case, a systematic science review was conducted to test whether the AP-industry influences science. Moreover, a media review investigated the prevalence of industry-influenced-studies in popular online articles. The analyses of all cases and reviews is framed by Lukes’ theory of power. More specifically, the concept of Doubt-Making guides the analyses of the most hidden form of power. 
Results: Three cases revealed that the AP-industry uses lobbying and lawsuits as well as influence on key decision-makers to prevent regulations. The other case suggested an influence on science as well as popular media. This was confirmed by the science review which showed that industry-studies were significantly more likely than independent studies to show conclusions favourable to the AP-industry. Furthermore, the media review indicated that industry-influenced-studies do support popular articles that are in favour of APs. In addition to influencing contend, the AP-industry is shifting the health debate to nutrients and away from deadly diseases.
Discussion: Industry-influence on science and media improves people’s health perceptions about APs leading to higher consumption. Moreover, retarding regulations keeps APs available and at low costs which increases consumption too. Additionally, the AP-industry uses advertisement and communication techniques that further enhance AP consumption. Thereby, AP consumption reaches unsustainable high levels which increase the financial means of the AP-industry. Thus, the AP-industry becomes more powerful and therewith even more effective. Hence, for reducing AP consumption, politicians, consumers, health advocacies, scientist and civil society should collaborate to lessen industry-power. Sustainability Science could play an important role in connecting this potential alliance of actors. 
Conclusion: The AP-industry upholds consumption by fighting regulations through lobbying, lawsuits and influence on key decision-makers. Moreover, industry influences health perceptions by supporting science that later fosters favourable media articles. Actors that strive for reducing AP consumption should take those industry strategies into account.},
  author       = {Matthies, Colin},
  keyword      = {funding effect,meat,doubt,sustainability science,lobbying},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Power on the plate : how industry upholds consumption of animal products},
  year         = {2017},
}