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REGENESIS: Animal agriculture is the new oil, according to George Monbiat’s new book

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The solution put forward in Regenesis is for us all to stop eating meat and dairy and switch instead to plant-based diets. This would reduce the amount of land used for farming by 76 percent. Pastures could be returned to nature and the health of our soils saved.

AARON BASTANI: In the 1990s, decarbonisation was seen as the goal for many environmentalists. Since then the key focus of the green movement has to stop extracting fossil fuels and move to renewable energy. In a new book, one of the worlds foremost environmental campaigners argues that there is a far bigger existential threat to the vertebrate life on earth: Animal Agriculture. SOURCE…

DAN SALADINO: In his twelfth book, Regenesis, George Monbiot argues that this chapter in the human story – in which animals play a central role in agricultural systems – must come to an end. In the action plan he sets out, calling a halt to farming animals will dramatically reduce the amount of land used to produce food, while landscapes will be rewilded. In place of animals, we will in future rely on protein brewed in fermentation tanks powered by ‘fourth-generation’ nuclear reactors.

The ‘desiccated bodies of bacteria’ will be 3D-printed into forms indistinguishable from ‘chicken nuggets, burgers, sausages’. Those previously working as farmers will be re-employed in tasks such as converting the land and serving the tourists who come to visit. Our other foods – vegetables, fruits and grains – will, in future, be produced in ways that harness the power of soil, a feature of the planet so poorly understood that ‘we treat it like dirt’.

It’s a radical and provocative argument, but for those who have followed Monbiot’s work in The Guardian in recent years, this vision of the future will come as no surprise. Nevertheless, although many of the book’s arguments have been rehearsed already in his columns, Regenesis provides a far more detailed model, one that promises to both satisfy our food needs and save the world. In addition to precision-fermented proteins, Monbiot profiles other pioneering ideas, such as ‘stockfree’ organic vegetable farming, in which no manure or animal products are used, and soil-friendly ‘no till’ techniques for growing wheat.

In Monbiot’s analysis, the global food system already produces enough to feed between ten and fourteen billion people. For this reason, ‘the biggest population crisis is not the growth in human numbers, but the growth in livestock numbers’. Biodiversity is being lost around the world as land is cleared to feed the global population of cattle, which has increased by 15 per cent in the last fifty years. Pig numbers have doubled and chicken numbers have increased fivefold. Rivers in the UK, notably the Wye, are being polluted by waste from chicken factories and cattle, resulting in life-killing algal blooms. Sheep farming has turned our national parks into ‘glorified sheep ranches’.

Monbiot argues that organic farming, because of the amount of land taken up by it and its slow pace, is even more damaging than conventional farming. The solution put forward in Regenesis is for us all to stop eating meat and dairy and switch instead to plant-based diets. This way, ‘we would reduce the amount of land used for farming by 76 per cent’. Pastures could be returned to nature and the health of our soils saved. SOURCE…

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