THE BBC has upheld a complaint from the National Farmers Union about the impartiality of its documentary Meat: A Threat to Our Planet? – and removed it from iPlayer.

Aired on BBC1 on November 25 last year, the programme set out to explore the assertion that consumers’ desire to eat meat is killing the planet. It featured environmental TV presenter Liz Bonnin visiting factory farms in the US and South America, who was reduced to tears by what she witnessed in the meat trade. She said she had stopped eating red meat since filming the documentary.

But the NFU complained that the BBC documentary was biased in its treatment of livestock farming, as it failed to make clear distinctions between grass-fed regenerative beef farming in the UK and cattle ranching in the Amazon.

The union escalated its complaint to Ofcom when the BBC failed to provide a timely response.The BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) said viewers of the programme “received a partial analysis of the impact of livestock farming on the global environment and biodiversity, based almost exclusively on intensive farming methods and of limited application to the choices open to UK consumers”. The ECU said this fell below the BBC’s standards of impartiality in relation to controversial subjects, having agreed that the subject-matter of the programme was controversial – given the ongoing public debate about the sustainability of meat production.

NFU president Minette Batters said the ruling “provides true vindication on the points we made about what we believed to be lack of impartiality in this programme”. British farmers are rightly proud of the work they do to rear quality livestock and care for the environment, and they were angry and hurt by the false impression of UK livestock farming the programme created for the viewer at home.In Britain, we have some of the most climate-friendly systems of food production in the world.“Emissions from UK beef production are already half that of the global average, and our farmers are working to become net zero by 2040.