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Friday's papers: Politicians' plans to check meat consumption, child sex abuse suspects, MP threatened

The press examine party ideas to get people to eat less meat, new data on a child sexual abuse case, and a threat to Finns MP Laura Huhtasaari.

Teurastamolla leikataan juuri teurastettua lihaa.
Figures from earlier this year show that 80 percent of men and 26 percent of women in Finland consume more than the weekly recommendation of 500 grams of meat. Image: AOP

The country's most widely-read daily Helsingin Sanomat looks at recent campaign talk from some political parties about reducing the consumption of meat in Finland, due to its impact on health and the environment.

Some of the parties suggest raising taxes on meat or reducing taxes on vegetables, to encourage people to eat better. Others propose changing agricultural subsidies to better reflect environment and climate considerations.

HS says the parties are on to something, as diet accounts for 15 percent of household CO2 emissions, with meat and dairy products playing an outsize role, comparatively. Food production is also responsible for 60 percent of nutrients that cause eutrophication in the Baltic Sea.

The Social Democratic Party, for example, seeks to lower the value added tax on "products without high emissions" from its current 14 percent rate.

In addition to problems with EU tax policy compliance, HS says this kind of tax policy to affect consumption has not always had the desired effect. A recent sugar tax, for example, did not reduce sweets consumption, although it did steer people away from sugary drinks.

Other parties like the National Coalition Party say the answer is to change agricultural subsidies in Finland to encourage more planet-friendly products. For example, vegetable and insect proteins should be supported so there is a "fair playing field" in comparison to meat and dairy products.

A representative of the MTK farming lobby tells the paper that Finland's hands are tied in this area, too, due to EU membership and international agreements. He says the biggest reason more Finns don't eat recommended amounts of vegetable products is simply because they prefer meat. If meat were to become more expensive, he says, they would just look for cheaper, imported meat instead.

Suspect in child sexual abuse case was church youth worker

The Oulu-based newspaper Kaleva carries a story on the suspects in an extensive child sexual abuse network uncovered by police. The victims of the suspected violent sexual abuse, which was believed to have taken place from 2014 to 2018, were six young boys.

The paper says that the five Finnish men who are suspects in the case are from different parts of Finland. The main suspect is a 57-year-old tour operator from Lapland whose company organised events like canoe trips and dog sledding in northern Finland.

Kaleva says the main suspect had also worked for the Finnish Evangelical Church nearly a decade ago, as a youth program assistant at a parish in Southern Ostrobothnia. He was also elected to the church council there, where he served for about two years.

The paper reports that the other suspects in the case are a 43-year-old man from Vaasa, a 51-year-old man from Helsinki, and a 22-year-old man from Southern Ostrobothnia. The fifth suspect is unknown, the paper writes.

Three of the suspects were convicted last August in the Helsinki District Court for their part in a methamphetamine ring. The suspect from Helsinki was sentenced to four-year suspended sentence for selling the drugs, which he brought into the country from Thailand and the Netherlands.

Threats target Finns Party MP

The tabloid Iltalehti features a story on threats of violence against Finns Party MP Laura Huhtasaari and her family on Thursday.

The person behind the threats has been identified as Tero Niskanen, a municipal politician from the western city of Pori who represents the National Coalition Party. Niskanen has since submitted his resignation to the party and publicly apologised to Huhtasaari and her family.

He wrote on Facebook that he was "very emotional" when he made a threatening call to the emergency services number. The call was traced and Niskanen was taken into custody. The police are investigating the incident.

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