One campaign said that enough protein to feed the entire world could be produced on a land area smaller than London if we replaced animal husbandry with factories that produce microorganisms.
The Reboot Food statement argues that three-quarters of the world’s farmland should be rebuilt instead.
Emissions from raising livestock account for at least 16.5% of the planet’s greenhouse gases, according to a study. A number of experts have advocated reducing animal protein in our diets.
Henry Dimbleby, the UK government’s food czar, suggested that people eat 30% less animal protein, and replace meat and dairy with vegetable protein. About 85% of farmland in England is used to pasture animals such as cows or to grow food, which is then fed to livestock.
Vegetarian activists protest the COP27 climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, saying that animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate author Mark Linas said: “The agricultural policies of the mainstream environmental movement are making things worse, not better. Organic and “regenerative” farming methods are encouraging agricultural expansion and have become smokescreens for the livestock industry. It is time for sane environmentalists to unite behind food production techniques that It uses less space, not more.”
The campaign, launched at Cop27, calls for 10 policies that the world’s governments should adopt, including investing 2.5% of GDP over 10 years in food innovation, ending all subsidies to animal farming and subsidizing plant foods instead, and banning advertising Carbon-intensive meat, reducing patents on new food technology and legalizing gene editing.
The basic idea is to replace animal farming, where possible, with a technique called micro-fermentation, which involves fermenting yeast and bacteria to make protein. It can create bioidentical animal proteins using genetically modified microorganisms fermented in tanks. These plants will be powered by solar, wind and nuclear energy. Campaign participants indicate that this technology produces 99% of insulin and 80% of rennet worldwide.
They say the protein from micro-fermentation is 40,900 times more land-efficient than beef, making it technically possible to produce the world’s protein on an area of land smaller than Greater London.
Some form of micro-fermentation is already being deployed in the United States, including a process that can make milk proteins responsible for the creamy, refreshing taste in ice cream that is typically achieved by dairy.
And Guardian columnist George Monbiot, who wrote about this potential solution in his latest book, Regenesis, supports the campaign.
“The elephant in the room at Cop27 is the cow,” he said. “But fortunately this time, there really is a recipe for success. By restarting our food systems using micro-fermentation, we can phase out animal farming while dramatically increasing the amount of protein available for human consumption.”