Cattlemen’s Beef with Google

Oct 18, 2022

Google’s planned sustainability search has cowboys calling foul for false information.

Google is hoping to help users choose sustainable options by showcasing eco-friendly markers in online search results and adding new information panels.

Hunting through Google recipes—even when beef isn’t what’s for dinner—would generate a comparison of protein choices’ emission intensity. That comparison includes beef, lamb, fish, and other key ingredients. It’s based on United Nations’ emissions data.

Beef bites back: The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) says Google is promoting incomplete climate info on cattle production.

“…cattle production protects green space, upcycles grass and forages, and provides consumers with a lean protein source packed with essential nutrients. Google should seriously reconsider this feature,” said NCBA president Don Schiefelbein.

It’s not just beef on the skewer, though. Google is marking used products, electric cars, and even recipes with sustainability information.

No beef here: Environmental activists and some in ag are applauding the move.

“This is not an anti-beef search function,” said Jan Dutkiewicz, visiting fellow in the Animal Law and Policy Program at Harvard Law. “I see no reason why people shouldn’t have access to quick comparative information on the impact of the foods they’re using.”

Where this goes: No word from Google on whether they’ll take cattlemen’s criticism to heart. According to the Google Search director, the future of the planet deserves nothing less than small changes that lead to a big impact.