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George Monbiot standing in a forest in autumn close-up
Podcast / The Big Interviews
Podcast / The Big Interviews

George Monbiot: ‘Protein production must move from farm to factory’

Photo Credit: © Stuart Simpson

“Monbiot has that most aggravating of gifts, the ability lucidly to point out things that people desperately do not want to be true.”

That’s a quote from Henry Dimbleby, the man who proposed the UK’s new national food strategy. He is, of course, talking about journalist, author and activist George Monbiot.

In this episode of the Food Matters Live podcast, George joins Stefan Gates to discuss the future of food production both in the UK and around the world.

“We are looking at the possibility of systemic environmental collapse,” George says. “We tell ourselves we put our survival above everything else. I see no evidence of that at all.”

He raises many concerns about the current food system in his new book “Regenesis: feeding the world without devouring the planet”.

But the most pressing concerns centre around soil and the use of land for agriculture.

He says the book came about through his newfound “obsession with soil”, something he describes as being “the most complex ecosystem on Earth.

Soil, he says, is home to as diverse and abundant an ecosystem as a coral reef or rainforest. But it is being destroyed.

He says farming is “by far the greatest cause of the destruction” of ecosystems, habitats, climate breakdown, pollution of rivers and seas, loss of wildlife and extinction: “We are eating the planet.”

So, what is the solution? George Monbiot believes a number of things need to change, and he believes they can change.

Listen to the full episode to hear his views on why agricultural subsidies are getting in the way of progress, why he thinks we should move the production of protein and fat away from the farm and into the factory, and how bacteria could help to solve many of the issues he raises.

George Monbiot, journalist, author, activist

George Monbiot is an author, Guardian columnist and environmental activist.

His best-selling books include Feral: Rewilding the land, sea and human lifeHeat: how to stop the planet burning, and Out of the Wreckage: a new politics for an age of crisis.

George cowrote the concept album Breaking the Spell of Loneliness with musician Ewan McLennan, and has made a number of viral videos.

One of them, adapted from his 2013 TED Talk, How Wolves Change Rivers, has been viewed on YouTube over 40m times. 

Another, on Natural Climate Solutions, that he co-presented with Greta Thunberg, has been watched over 60m times. 

George’s latest book, Regenesis: Feeding the World without Devouring the Planet, is out now.

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