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WHO pulls support from initiative promoting global move to plant based foods

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 09 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1700
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. London, UK

The World Health Organization pulled out of sponsoring a global initiative promoting healthier and sustainable diets across the world after pressure from an Italian official who raised concerns about the impact of the diet on people’s health and livelihoods.

The event—the launch of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health in Geneva, Switzerland on 28 March—still went ahead, sponsored by the government of Norway.

WHO dropped its planned sponsorship after Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy’s ambassador and permanent representative of Italy to the international organizations in Geneva, 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 and the production of “unhealthy” foods, and destroy traditional diets which are part of cultural heritage.

The initiative “urging for a centralised control of our dietary choices” risked “the total elimination of consumers’ freedom of choice,” …

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