If you are an external academic and wish to attend please email bettina.lange@csls.ox.ac.uk for the link.

The IPCC’s 2019 Special Report on Climate Change and Land raises the urgent need for substantial re-organisation of land use and agricultural system if we are to have any chance of meeting Paris Agreement commitments. One of the most important ways to transform food systems for human and planetary health would be to radically reduce and substantially transform the way animals are used for food. The over-production and consumption of animal source food products via factory farming is land, water and energy intensive. It is directly and indirectly damaging to public and environmental health. It is also a source of great injustice to both human workers and especially the animals themselves. The contribution of land clearing for animal and animal feed production to climate change, the existential threat of antimicrobial resistance and the sheer suffering of billions of sentient creatures are each particularly urgent challenges. In principle these concerns ought to galvanise a range of civil society, industry and government (and intergovernmental) actors to all support governance tools that can substantially reduce the use of animals in food production and consumption. Yet this is not occurring. Indeed the continuing and expanding use of animals for food is economically, politically and culturally locked in to global food systems. One area where industry, government and civil society do however often agree that governance action might be possible in the food system is through the creation of voluntary (and sometimes mandatory) labelling schemes to address various health, environmental and justice issues. Labelling of animal foods in relation to welfare and use of antimicrobials is particularly popular in a number of Western countries. It has also been suggested that health and perhaps even climate change warnings for red and processed meat might be trialled. This paper uses regulatory studies analysis of the interaction between civil society, industry and government actors to ask whether such labelling measures are likely to be effective and legitimate ways to (urgently) transition global food systems and land use away from overreliance on animals?  The paper argues that piecemeal, market-based initiatives are all fatally subject to reductionism, greenwashing, and privatization of what ought to be collective socialized, solidarity-oriented standard-setting.