Human technology

Replace animal farms with reservoirs of microorganisms, say activists | Food

Enough protein to feed the world could be produced in an area smaller than London if we replace livestock with factories producing micro-organisms, a campaign has claimed.

The restart food manifesto argues that three-quarters of the world’s farmland should be reseeded instead.

Livestock emissions account for at least 16.5% of the planet’s greenhouse gases, according to a study. A number of experts have called for a reduction in animal protein in our diets.

Henry Dimbleby, the British government’s food czar, suggested people eat 30% less animal proteins and replacing meat and dairy products with vegetable proteins. Around 85% of farmland in England is used as pasture for grazing animals such as cows or to grow food which is then fed to cattle.

Vegan activists protest against the Cop27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, arguing that animal agriculture is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate author Mark Lynas said, “The mainstream environmental movement’s agricultural policies only make things worse, not better. Organic and “regenerative” farming methods encourage agricultural sprawl and have become smokescreens for the ranching industry. It’s time for sensible environmentalists to unite behind food production techniques that use less land, not more.

The campaign, launched at COP27, calls for 10 policies that world governments should adopt, including investing 2.5% of GDP over 10 years in food innovation, ending all animal agriculture subsidies and subsidizing plant-based foods instead, ban carbon advertising. intensive meat, limiting patents on new food technologies and legalizing gene editing.

The basic idea is to replace, where possible, animal agriculture with a technology called precision fermentation, which would involve brewing yeasts and bacteria to make proteins. He could create biologically identical animal proteins using genetically modified microorganisms fermented in tanks. These factories would be powered by solar, wind and nuclear. Campaigners point out that the technology produces 99% of the insulin and 80% of the rennet in the world.

They say protein from precision fermentation is up to 40,900 times more efficient than beef, making it technically possible to produce global protein in an area smaller than Greater London.

Some forms of precision fermentation are already being deployed in the United States, including a process that can make milk proteins responsible for the greasy, tart taste in ice cream typically achieved by dairy products.

Guardian columnist George Monbiot, who wrote about this potential solution in his recent book Regenesis, backs the campaign.

He said: “The elephant in the room at Cop27 is the cow. But luckily this time there really is a recipe for success. By rebooting our food systems with precision fermentation, we can phase out agriculture animal while dramatically increasing the amount of protein available for human consumption.