Enough protein to feed the entire world could be produced on an area of land smaller than London if we replace animal farming with factories producing micro-organisms, the Reboot Food manifesto argues. Three-quarters of the world’s farmland could be rewilded instead.
The cornerstone idea is swapping animal agriculture, where possible, for a technology called precision fermentation, which would involve brewing yeasts and bacteria to make protein. It could create biologically identical animal proteins using genetically engineered micro-organisms fermented in tanks. These factories would be powered by solar, wind and nuclear. They say protein from precision fermentation is up to 40,900 times more land efficient than beef. Campaigners point out that the technology produces 99% of insulin and 80% of rennet worldwide.
The climate author Mark Lynas said: “The mainstream environmental movement’s agricultural policies are making things worse not better. Organic and ‘regenerative’ farming methods encourage agricultural sprawl and have become smokescreens for the livestock industry. It’s time for sensible environmentalists to unite behind food production techniques that use less land, not more.”
George Monbiot wrote about this potential solution in his recent book Regenesis.
He said: “By rebooting our food systems with precision fermentation we can phase out animal agriculture while greatly increasing the amount of protein available for human consumption.”