Like fossil fuel companies that funded research to promote climate skepticism, meat and dairy companies have funded experts to undermine scientific findings. After the United Nations published its report on animal agriculture, for example, Frank Mitloehner, a scientist at the University of California at Davis, challenged the results. Mitloehner did not contest the absolute contributions of beef producers to climate change; rather, he criticized the report’s comparison with the transportation sector, calling the analysis “lopsided” for counting only vehicle emissions from driving. Still, when the U.N. authors acknowledged the inconsistency, major news outlets from CNN to Fox ran articles that questioned or outright denied that meat production significantly contributed to climate change. None of this coverage acknowledged that the Beef Checkoff Program, an industry initiative that aims to encourage beef sales, had paid Mitloehner $26,000 to conduct his study. Mitloehner, whose training is in animal science, not climate science, remains one of the most prominent academic defenders of Big Meat; his recent activities include industry presentations and white papers downplaying the climate impacts of methane.
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