Hyperbole and Back Wounds

Even the BBC reported on the furore that followed the Spanish Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, recommendations for Spaniards to eat less meat.

SPN Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto GarzonBut like in many cases with BBC World reporting, they didn’t go into details, given the huge range of world news that they are covering; in this case, however, they were important details.

Everybody piled into Minister Garzón, blowing his words up out of proportion, distorting them, deliberately misquoting them, and that’s just his supposed political allies.

Even his Prime Minister, during a visit to Lithuania when questioned on this point, failed to back him and instead stabbed him in the back – PM Sánchez’s coalition government is an uneasy partnership, after all.

The fact is that all international health authorities recommend consuming less red and processed meats, so nobody has a leg to stand on criticising him on scientific grounds, but the opposition knew that facts were to be avoided and straw man tactics were to be the line of attack; i.e., putting words into his mouth that he never uttered and then easily shooting them down.

He basically said that Spain has two problems; a public health issue and an environmental one. The former is the rise in cardiac disease due to constant consumption of meat, not only every day, but somethings twice or more times a day.

Secondly, he pointed out that one thing was traditional, extensive farming; i.e., small and medium livestock farmers, and quite another thing was the increase in intensive livestock farming where several thousand animal are bred in a confined area causing problems with local freshwater contamination.

He said that traditional farmers should be supported and aided whilst something should really be done about these huge, intensive livestock farms, which employ very few people. He proposed that there should be a debate on meat consumption and production.

The facts are that Spain is Europe’s largest meat producer and the second largest on a world level. Last year over 71 million animals were slaughtered to supply the sector. Many of the animals are slaughtered for foreign markets, like China. Of that, 7.6 million tonnes of meat are consumed by Spaniards per year

So, in what forms did the attack come in? Fellow minister Luis Planas, who heads the Ministry of Agriculture, said, “politicians aren’t here to cause problems,” adding that such a campaign would be as erroneous as one that states, ‘sugar kills.’ He was referring to another show down with the Sr. Garzón over increasing taxes on high-sugar-content drinks, no matter that most countries are doing precisely that in order to combat child obesity.

The animosity between the said ministers, perhaps, is because Garzón’s ministerial post was ‘invented’ for him so that he could be in on the cabinet meetings. Consumer Affairs had previously been part of the Minister of Agriculture, & Fishing’s department.

Nobody within the government came out to support Minister Garzón.

The socialist PM for Castilla-La Mancha, Emiliano García Page, who leans more to the right than to the left on many occasions, said, “in Madrid they say many stupid things, because some people there [Central Government] don’t know what is going on in the country.” He added, “Today it is about meat; tomorrow it will be about wine, and then cheese.” He concluded, “I don’t know what future dieticians hold for us, but if they’ve got nothing to do, they could at least stop inventing politics to make problems for people.”

Which brings us to the Spanish right. Conservative opposition leader, Pablo Casado, managed to turn a recommendation into a direct order not to eat meat, at all, with his, “Don’t tell us, leftist Government, what we should do in our own homes,” whilst the far-right VOX leader, Santiago Abascal, managed to go into overdrive with “the sinister clergy imposing upon us their new religion.”

And all this because somebody actually had the nerve to point out the truth concerning meat consumption.

The supposed allies, who stabbed Garzón in the back, and the Spanish right-wing opposition, both harped on about how healthily the Spanish eat with their Mediterranean Diet but the truth is that modern Spaniards do not follow a Mediterranean diet as their grandparents did, which was meat only occasionally but plenty of legumes, vegetables and fish.

(News: Spain)

  5 comments for “Hyperbole and Back Wounds

  1. July 15, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Hi, David. Yes, nothing like a bit of crossfire to brighten the morning 😉

    Career diplomats, yes, career politicians, no. The problem is that we have no statesmen anymore; just “me first, my party second and sod the people who pay my salary” merchants.

    I firmly believe that there should be no election campaign prior to an election but that each party should be judged on what it has done in the last four years rather than the fairy tales it can come up with as pledges for the next four. If a party wants to call a snap election, then they should pay for it from their own pockets

    Many consider that if you are conservative or liberal in your home country you can identify with the right and left in Spain, which you cannot, especially with the Spanish right wing. I’m a conservative but I have absolutely nothing in common with the Spanish right.

    As for the Sánchez’s coalition, there was no other alternative as the combined Spanish right-wing could not produce a workable majority. We had had for years of chaos when Rajoy couldn’t form a government but refused to present himself before the parliament so that the electoral machinery could trundle on to another election. In the end Sánchez, who could not produce one either, had to do it in his place because the beardy idiot didn’t have the backbone to stand up and have his candidature for Prime Minister shot down in a shower of sparks and sniggers.

    Do I think Sánchez, regardless of his politics, is the right man for the job? Nope! But he is far better than the alternatives. And at least he can speak English well which all leaders should be able to do during international conferences etc.

    No, I was hoping that Ciudadanos would become the sort of right-wing party that the country sorely needs, but he swerved right over to the far right and sunk his party, falling from 53 seats in the national parliament to about 10, leaving his 2nd in command to manage over the disintegration of the party. Instead of a right wing party you can vote for, we have Mickey Casados Mouse and Donald Abascal Duck vying with each other for the Gold Medal in the Complete Prat Olympic Sports.

    Well, I had better get back to writing articles!


  2. David M
    July 15, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    Good afternoon Martin,

    I thought my reply might get interest & a bit of friendly banter.

    I too have no time for Casado, Abascal or Inglesias by the way.

    Having worked hard all my life & now approaching 70 years of age & never received anything from the public purse, except my hard earned pension. I fully believe that anyone who goes into politics should have worked for 20 years beforehand to experience life & the difficulties of surviving on an earned income.

    So you & I have similar ideals abit slightly different. I have no problem with Pedro Sanchez except the fact he teamed up with a party that the voters voted against just to get into power.

    Anyway have a good rest of the afternoon in the heat.


  3. July 15, 2021 at 10:45 am

    David: I see, so you would rather shoot the messenger than argue against the message. It is completely irrelevant who said it; the message remains perfectly clear and true – we consume too much meat.

    Nobody – much less Sr Garzón – is demanding, or even suggesting, that here in Spain we all become vegetarians, or cut down drastically on our meals containing meat – hence the title of the article “hyperbole.”

    Nobody demanded that you, personally, could not maintain or even increase your meat consumption, as you appear to intend. It’s called moderation. And as for your, “I though that this was a free land,” you have supplied with these words precisely the knee-jerk, hyperbolic and irrational response offered by the Spanish rabid right.

    And then you speed off onto an attack on plastic farming, as if the said minister, had suggested that plastic farming was good, but I do understand that you were grasping at absolutely anything to decry the minister’s suggestion. Let me repeat that… “suggestion.”

    And whilst we are on the subject that you have brought up concerning greenhouses, the majority use hydroponics; i.e., minimal drip-fed irrigation whereas it is the farmers in the vega that in some cases still blanket water their fruit trees and vegetables. In fact, it is not agriculture at all that consumes most water but industry.

    So, as you asked of Fred… a little common sense, David.

    I, personally, am a hearty carnivore, enjoying a good roast on a Sunday and a steak or shepards pie on a Saturday, for instance, yet, given my age, I now eat fish and salad/vega from Monday to Saturday. I’m not trying to save the planet; I am merely trying to put some healthy moderation back into my dietary life.

    Seeing as you attacked Sr. Garzon for not having worked in his life, perhaps you should be reminded that the Conservative opposition leader, Casado (whose response to Sr. Garzon’s statement mirrors yours in essence) has not worked a day in his life, either and further more, it became a national scandal when it turned out that his university qualifications were mickey mouse. Just between 2003 and 2018 he received from the public purse a total of 1,036.002 euros as his political salary. Oh, but wait, he’s not a communist so that doesn’t count.

    What about the leader of the far-right Vox, Santiago Abascal? Our cuddly friend, who idolises Franco, received 82.491 in 2013 as the only worker belonging to a chiringuito (job for the boys) foundation set up by the Madrid City Hall, governed by his party at the time. You mention Garzon owing his ministerial position to keep the coalition party, IU-Podemos sweet, but this little gem about dear Santiago appears to have slipped your attention. Oh, and he has never worked in the private sector at all, because like his Conseravative counterpart (and rival) Pablo Casados, he has sucked off the public teet all his life too.

  4. David M
    July 15, 2021 at 9:53 am

    Not a very good comment Fred, so I will put you straight.

    Alberto Garzon born 1985, described by Wikipedia as a member of the Communist Party, the party of ‘La Colleta’. Entered parliament as a member of Podemos in 2011 aged 26. Never had to work for a living, never had a job. No experience of life or work, only theoretical not practical.

    Only kept his job as a minister because Pedro Sanchez could not sack him because Podemos would have withdrawn from the Government.

    I thought this was still a free world where one could still make ones own choice. After the nonsense from Albert Garzon I for one will eat more meat & hope that everyone else follows my example.

    Surely to save water you would stop wasting it overproducing growing vegetables like on the Costa Tropical. I would of thought that the water wasted flooding the vegetable fields is a lot more than a cow or a pig consumes.

    Plastic tunnels cant be good for the environment. If the vegetable growers on the Costas got their way they would waste all the water from the Rules Dam instead of it being used for the residents drinking water.

    Common Sense please Fred.

  5. Fred Davies
    July 14, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    Bravo Alberto Garzon, the scientific evidence is clear and supports his position so it’s very disappointing that other politicians did not echo his concerns almost certainly as it it did not suit their short term political interests. With water getting scarcer year on year it’s bonkers not to reduce meat production and consumption

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