THERE won't be many who disagree with the National Sheep Association's plea for a change in policy and PR from retailers regarding some of the misinformation being bandied about with regard to which food is the healthiest for you ... and best for the environment.

For too long, mistruths, half-truths and subliminal messages have been used to denigrate the green credentials of just about anything that doesn't say 'vegan' on the packet. It's time for retailers and more politicians to take a stand on this, or we can say 'hello' to imported soya as the main protein available, and 'goodbye' to sustainably produced and locally sourced meat of all kinds.

They are all at it: Telling consumers that they will be healthier by eating X, Y and Z that will have a lower carbon footprint than real meat. They are also being divisive by claiming that the likes of pork has a lower carbon footprint than beef. It's all tosh and we know it – but we don't have the irrefutable ammunition available to us to prove it. Until we do, we will have a target on our backs.

Enough is enough. We all know that livestock farming does contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, but most of us would rather spend the night in a garage with a live cow than a car that's ticking over? The fundamental problem lies with the fact that a true audit of what the real effects of livestock on emissions are and on the counter-balance, how much the land it grazes on sequesters carbon back into the soil, is a massive grey area that's ripe for exploitation by detractors. It's high time there was an international agreed and accepted standard for this and until we have it, we are belching against thunder!

It's not the first time this column has called for an integrated and well-funded approach to taking on the doomsayers and opportunists. What about a sustained attack on some of the more outlandish claims via the Advertising Standards Authority ... yes it will take an entire cow's lifetime before the process is concluded, but every journey starts with one small step.

As NFUS president Martin Kennedy also pointed out this week, not only are we in danger of boosting policy-led potential to 'import' our food needs, we are also encouraging others to half-inch our carbon credits and 'export' them abroad. That's an argument backed up by Gordon Rennie in a letter published on the page opposite this one where he claims that Ikea is buying up carbon credits in New Zealand by turning thousands of acres over to trees that it never intends to harvest, but balances the scales of its carbon audit to neutral.

What about using the much vaunted community buy-out schemes to administer the rights to carbon credits? At the moment, the huge danger is that we will be using public money to finance the afforestation of millions of acres in the name of slowing climate change, while at the same time allowing the carbon credits derived thereof to be stolen from us by the very corporations that contribute most to global warming.