WIT claim title at 2021 Great Agri-food Debate

WIT claim title at 2021 Great Agri-food Debate

6th Apr 2021

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  • 6th annual debate organised by Dawn Meats and McDonald’s took place virtually for first time
  • Three days of debate covered topics including net zero, lab grown meats and impact of plastics

WIT were crowned winners of the 6th Annual Great Agri-Food debate, organised by Dawn Meats and McDonald’s. The debate took place virtually for the first time this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Six third level colleges took part in the event and marked the first time an institution from outside of the island of Ireland took part, with Wales’s University of Aberystwyth facing off against Northern Ireland’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

The debates were moderated and judged by a range of representatives from the agrifood industry and beyond, including Beth Hart from McDonald’s, Brendan Gleeson, Secretary General Department of Agriculture, Wayne Anderson, Director of Food Science & Standards, Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Nicholas Saphir, Chairman Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Niall Browne, CEO Dawn Meats and Dunbia and Dan McSweeney, Chairman Bord Bia.

This is the 2nd time WIT have claimed the title, previously winning back in 2019 when proposing the motion “Vegan diets are better for people and planet”. 

In the first debate, newcomers University of Aberystwyth were up against CAFRE on the topic of  ‘the livestock sector can meet the requirements for net zero’, with CAFRE opposing and Aberystwyth proposing the motion.

Debate number two saw University College Dublin (UCD), four-time winners of the competition, go head-to-head with the University of Limerick (UL) on the topic of ‘plastic is not the enemy of our blue planet’, with UL opposing and UCD proposing.

The final debate saw a repeat of last year’s semi-final, with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) reigniting the rivalry with Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) on the subject of ‘lab grown meats will not replace traditional livestock farming systems’.  A fiercely topical motion, WIT proposed with DKIT opposing.

The individual debate winners were:

  • UCD
  • WIT

After careful deliberation, the judging panel crowned WIT as 2021’s winners.

Commenting Niall Browne, CEO Dawn Meats said:

“The annual Great Agri-food Debate is designed to hear from our future leaders and challenge them to critically think about the issues of today and tomorrow. I am always struck by the high level of technical and practical knowledge our debaters showcase, and this year was no different. A warm congratulations to WIT on their victory and a special welcome to the University of Aberystwyth who added a new perspective to proceedings. I hope we will see them in 2022. A final thanks to everyone who made the debate possible this year in challenging circumstances.”

Commenting, Beth Hart, McDonald’s UK and Ireland Vice President for Supply Chain and Brand Trust said:

 “It was a privilege to attend and judge this year’s virtual Great Agri Food Debate. The debaters from across Ireland and the UK were, as always smart, eloquent and captivating. I am confident that the future of the agri food industry will be bright when these amazing students graduate. McDonald’s remains committed to playing our part in creating a forward-thinking food sector across Ireland and the UK.”

Sarah Davidson, CAFRE, Ciara Fox, UCD and Michael Martin, WIT were all awarded the Best Speaker Prize for their respective debates.