No presentation at the World Leather Congress in New York on July 16 commanded more attention or generated more discussion among delegates than Professor Frank Mitloehner’s.
Most of the points he raised are covered in an article in World Leather June-July 2019, including his explanation of the need for us to use all available resources to feed a global population that is on track to exceed 9 billion people by 2050. Not to use agricultural land on which we cannot grow edible (for humans) crops, but can grow pasture that ruminant livestock can then convert into protein that we can consume, would be folly, he said. And the fact that the by-products of beef cattle give us 400 other products we can use, the most obvious of which is leather, makes this supply chain all the more valuable.
In response to a question about opposition to livestock farming and meat consumption, Professor Mitloehner told World Leather that, in his view, only 1% of campaigners are so entrenched in their views that they will not listen to counter-arguments, even though this 1% is very vocal. He said he would continue to use science and reason to present a pro-livestock, pro-meat and (by extension) pro-leather point of view, but pointed out that emotional arguments must also be part of the battle. “People also choose what they eat and what they wear based on emotion,” he added. “To ignore emotion in this discussion would be wrong. Industries that are connected to meat, including leather, have been asleep at the wheel on this and the first thing they need to do is wake up.”