NFU Cymru has raised concerns about a conflict of interest after one of Hybu Cig Cymru’s (HCC) board members was found to have a commercial interest in lab-grown meat.
Carmarthenshire pig farmer Illtud Dunsford was appointed to the board in 2017, but his position as co-founder of the first cell-based meat company in the UK, Cellular Agriculture, has caused controversy.
In May last year, Mr Dunsford was a guest on Ed Miliband’s podcast, Reasons to be Cheerful, which discussed the environmental impact of meat and dairy production.
During the podcast, he admitted the reaction to his work with Cellular Agriculture from the red meat sector had been ‘very mixed’.
“Like most people, when faced with something which is new, something which is rather alien, the initial reaction is I guess people can be rather scared,” he said.
“For me personally, it is about understanding how we can produce enough food and enough protein for the growing world population by 2050.
“What we [Cellular Agriculture] are really concerned with at the moment is upscaling the technology and having a bioprocess which is scalable and affordable and comparable in price to traditional meat.”
Mr Dunsford also said he was no longer part of the HCC board because his work ‘did not sit comfortably with them in terms of how we should be pursuing meat as a product’.
But Welsh Government has since told Farmers Guardian Mr Dunsford does in fact remain a non-executive director of HCC.
A spokesman added: “We are aware of Mr Dunsford’s business interests, but it would be inappropriate to comment further at this point.”
NFU Cymru livestock board chairman Wyn Evans said: “The role of HCC is to develop, promote and market our world-leading PGI Welsh Lamb and Beef and Welsh Pork, and as such we expect all HCC Board members to be steadfast in their efforts to support this work.
“It is, therefore, extremely disappointing to hear that a member of the board appears to have interests that directly conflict with the objectives of our levy board.
“The board is appointed by Welsh Government and we look to Welsh Government to undertake due diligence to ensure that every board member that is appointed is there to serve the interests of levy payers.
“NFU Cymru continues to believe that Welsh levy payers should have a greater say in the appointment of board members and this matter clearly shows the need for that to happen.”
Mr Dunsford declined to comment.