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George Monbiot’s farming fantasies The urban voyeur will never understand agriculture

Gassy George. Credit: Mark Kerrison/In Pictures/Getty

Gassy George. Credit: Mark Kerrison/In Pictures/Getty


May 17, 2022   6 mins

Ever since they rode out of the Book of Revelation circa 90AD, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have wreaked existential havoc. They may now finally be about to achieve the End Times. We are either going to starve to death, as the world population reaches 10 billion by 2050, or drown or scorch to death due to climate change soon thereafter.

The Devil has finally found the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. It is not, as you might suspect, a hurtling asteroid or Putin pushing the thermo-nuclear button; it is, apparently, farming. It is, according to the environmentalist and journalist George Monbiot, “the most destructive force ever to have been unleashed by humans”. This ancient activity takes up vast tracts of the planet and the gases emitted by its cows and sheep take up its atmosphere.

Credit where it is due, Monbiot presents in his latest book Regenesis:“Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet” a damning case for farming being the Devil’s work. What the public understands as farming — carefully husbanded crops and moo moos attended to by a rosy-faced family — is increasingly absent from the landscape and confined to the board books the middle classes read to their toddlers. About 70% of global farmland is owned by 1% of “farmers”. Agri-business now rules the roost.

Four companies — Cargill, Archer Daniel Midland, Bunge and Louis Dreyfus — control 90% of the global grain trade. Similarly, four companies — ChemChina, Corteva, Bayer and BASF — control 66% of the world’s agricultural chemicals. These businesses are hardly renowned for their care of the environment. Likewise, politicians. The post-Second World War intensification of agriculture, promoted in the West by national governments and the nascent EU as a path to food security, has starved the soil and exhausted crops.

The litany of the woes caused by agriculture continues. Pesticide use on farmland has resulted in what Monbiot calls “Insectageddon”: even an eco-minded country such as Denmark has witnessed a drop of 70-80% of insects in the last 20 years. No fewer than 75% of antibiotics sold in Europe are used for treating farm animals, and perhaps 58% of those antibiotics are excreted, with some reaching water courses. I learned to swim in the River Wye, in the self-same stretch near Hay where Monbiot today fears to tread water, due to pollutant run-off from 590 chicken units. Soya fed to housed cattle requires the cutting down of the Amazon rainforest. Then there is wasted water from the tap left running. And those methane belches.

We in the West live in a careless and consumerist Sodom and Gomorroh, and the remainder of the planet is following in a handcart. By what is known as “Bennett’s Law”, consumption of fat and protein (read: “meat”) rises with income. As hitherto starving parts of the globe gain more currency in the pocket so they will, like us decadent Westerners, tuck into burgers, spare-ribs, entrecote, all of which come from the same pesky, methane-producing, land-hogging livestock who are already the principal cause agents of The End Times. “The biggest population crisis is not the growth in human numbers, but the growth in livestock numbers”, Monbiot declares.

It might come as a surprise to Saint George of The Guardian, but many of us in agriculture would concur with his jeremiad against Big Farmer. Indeed, my book The Running Hare, an account of sustainably retro-farming an arable field, anticipates many of his sallies against the agri-industrial dragon. Conventional, chemically-dependent agriculture is a bonfire of the sanities, ecological and economic, being dependent on big (but barely scrutinised) public subsidy.

Monbiot’s solution is a ‘‘farmfree” future, in which our farmland has been re-wilded with exotic megafauna — think lions, elephants, giraffes. What will we eat? Bacterial soup, grown in vats. Such gloop can, apparently, be modelled into tasty dishes. In an aural irony a comedian would blush to construct, Monbiot’s damascene conversion to this ascetic diet came in Helsinki.

But any discussion of global food policy needs to begin with one plain fact: there is, as Monbiot concedes, no actual food shortage. Already, the planet’s farmers produce enough food to cater for the projected 10 billion humans of 2050. The problem is waste, and distribution. The West goes to fat, while Ethiopia hungers; worldwide, more than 10% of people are hungry, roughly 25% are overweight or obese. The United Nations’ figures for global food waste are somewhat fluid, but 33% is in the ballpark. The rich West throws away food, while the Third World lacks the storage to keep food preserved. I’d be more amenable to laments about farming by every George, Dick and Henrietta if the public stopped binning food, and government did its job of equitable distribution.

Not that my views as a farmer will interest Monbiot. He has seen the light, and I am to be made extinct. Or I will be turned into a tourist guide for his wildlife park — which, after all, is what the British countryside will become under “farmfree”. Lions are apex predators, and quite capable of eating a human for lunch, so they will need to be fenced in when the Serengeti comes to Surrey. What used to be working countryside becomes an extended zoo where Nature is exterior to humans. A visitor attraction for city folk.

To justify his “farmfree” future Monbiot, after reasonably critiquing conventional, intensive agriculture, then traduces alternative, nature-friendly, climate-aiding farming methods. No-till, regenerative, and organic are all set up as Aunt Sallies, to be “demolished” in the proof that no farming model is sustainable. Not one.

But take organic farming (and I declare an interest). According to Monbiot, organic farming only allows “a slightly wider range of wildlife to persist” than conventional farming, and can inflict more damage on the overall environment because of its “lower yields”: it uses more land to produce the same amount of food. But as the same George Monbiot noted, in 2000, in a Guardian article called “Organic farming will feed the world“, organic farming of maize produces yields “identical to yields of maize grown with fertilisers and pesticides, while soil quality in the organic fields dramatically improves”. He goes on to explain the research of Professor Jules Pretty of Essex University, which demonstrated “how farmers in India, Kenya, Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras have doubled or tripled their yields by switching to organic or semi-organic techniques”.

And does organic land really possess only a “slightly wider range of wildlife”? According to an Oxford University study, organic farms support 34% more plant, insect and animal species than conventional farms. I’d say 34% was more than “slight”, wouldn’t you?

As the high priest of British veganism, Monbiot really has it in the neck for farm animals, who do not feature in his eerily Orwellian “farmfree” dystopia. Curious, is it not, how some eco activists claim to love animals, but are happy to see farm breeds — some of which, like White Park cattle, have been around since Druid times — made extinct? Is there some sort of hierarchy, where wild animals are good, farm animals bad? I aver that our Ouessant sheep, a Viking-era breed from Brittany, are no less fascinating than their wild Mouflon ancestors. And I have observed both.

Sheep — usually Monbiot’s bete noire, for their supposed “sheepwrecking” of the uplands of Wales — get off lightly in Regenesis, in which the pasture-fed, organic cow becomes the “most damaging farm product” on Earth. Why? Because they are slow to grow to maturity, thus taking up more space, and emitting more methane.

But the organic cow will produce, from its back end, enough manure to feed over 2 million insects a year, the start of a wild food chain going all the way up to the fox and swallow. More organic cows might, then, end “Insectageddon”. Moreover, traditional hay meadows — the precise origin and purpose of which is the feeding of livestock like Ermintrude — are one of the most florally diverse habitats in the world, and can contain over 140 plant species.

Arguments like this will fall on stony ground with Monbiot and his largely urban following of rewilders, whose experience of agriculture is that of the voyeur, the observer. Monbiot has no appreciation of farmland ecology, and for him Nature and Farming are absolutely discrete (as they are, ironically, for Big Farmer). He complains that 40% of global land use is given over to farming, whereas “Only 15 per cent of the world’s land, by contrast, is protected for nature.”

Is not a traditional, chemical-free hay meadow, with its meadow brown butterflies and meadow pipits, “protected for nature”? For The Running Hare, I took a chemically-lashed arable field and turned it into a Victorian-type cornfield, which as well as giving “yield” ran anew with poppies and hares, cornflowers and red-leg partridge.

The British countryside has been farmed for 3,000 years, and in those millennia developed distinct farmland habitats, with allied, dependent species. The clue is in the names of the flowers: Cornflower, Meadowsweet, Corn Marigold. Today, in Britain, it is these flora and fauna of traditional farmland that is most under threat. Since the industrialisation of agriculture in the Fifties, some 97% of traditional hay meadows have disappeared, and arable flowers, grown in fields since the Stone Age, have become extinct. As for the farmland birds, here’s the report of theDepartment of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Wild Bird Populations in the UK, 1970 to 2014:

“The long term decline of farmland birds in the UK has been driven mainly by the decline of those species that are restricted to, or highly dependent on, farmland habitats (the ‘specialists’). Between 1970 and 2014, populations of farmland specialists declined by 69 per cent 
 Four farmland specialists (grey partridge, turtle dove, tree sparrow and corn bunting) have declined by 90 per cent or more relative to 1970 levels.”

In Britain’s fields, courtesy of Big Farmer, specialist birds, bugs and flowers totter on the edge of extinction. They are wild, but they live in a human-created habitat, farmland. Some arable flowers actually require the disturbance of ploughing to live. For the sin of impurity, farmland’s wild things are of no account to Monbiot. There is no place for them in his farmfree future. He therefore threatens to finish the work begun by Big Farmer.


John Lewis-Stempel is a farmer and writer on nature and history. His most recent books are The Sheep’s Tale and Nightwalking.

JLewisStempel

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hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

I recall that George Monbiot was a warm proponent of Zimbabwe’s land reform program.
40% of the country’s wildlife has been lost to poaching since that time. An area the size of Luxembourg has been deforested by jobless woodcutters. The water catchment area of Harare has been destroyed by unmanaged grazing and deforestation within formerly commercial farms that safeguarded the river flow systems to Lake Chivero.
And still, despite all the evidence that what he advocated was implemented with disastrous results, George seemingly stands by how this “reform” was implemented and, moreover, would happily see this method of agriculture exported globally.
His attitude to Zimbabwe shows a few things:

  1. His concern for the environment is non-existent
  2. His concern for the poor is non-existent
  3. His hatred of a white elite is at the heart of his enthusiasm for land reform (this is quite obvious since he has never had anything to say about a political black elite benefiting from the land to the expense of the country as a whole).

George Monbiot has mastered the art of marketing his hatred of those more talented, more wealthy, and more fortunate than himself, as love of those less privileged than himself.
He holds up a thin intellectual veneer that masks base animal instincts of envy, greed and megalomania.

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
harry storm
harry storm
2 years ago

I take issue with the word “mastered.” Even the occasional read of his columns reveal him to be obvious, predictable, boring and not even remotely convincing.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
2 years ago

I keep thinking that we have reached “Peak Sanctimony” but I am constantly dumbfounded by the ranks of the self-appointed “guardians of the planet”. They leap from absurdity to pomposity and on to hypocrisy as they constantly switch bandwagons to further their self-important and self-inflated virtue-signalling.
The Monbiots, and the Thunbergs of this world spew out ever greater self-contradictions, while poisoning humankind with their toxic hatred for their fellow-human beings. Like empty vessels proclaiming their own futility, they rattle away incessantly. A few people hear, but no one listens – it’s tuned out like any other objectionable background noise.
They are empty, pointless, miserable people, making empty, pointless, worthless noise. They waste their lives, making a career of the demonstration of pitiful ignorance.

Last edited 2 years ago by Albireo Double
Martin Butler
Martin Butler
1 year ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

There is nothing in the article that suggests the author does not support Thunberg. Why are Unheard readers so full of spite and hate? They just say the same things whatever the article is about.

David J
David J
2 years ago

No surprise that Mionbot’s home is the Guardian, media base for so many other wastrels.

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
2 years ago

as an avowed vegan, it is amazing Monbiot doesn’t feel more obligation to address his conflict of interest when claiming to talk in a balanced way about the merits husbandry versus cultivation. his lamb chop example has been proved to be rubbish, even by the BBC. he has never (to my knowledge) apologised. he is a whitened sepulchre. someone who has built his career on saying the “right thing” in a catchy way. it is depressing that show-offs like Monbiot are given the time of day and somewhat amazing that most of his fans were university educated. he damages the environmental cause by adopting such extreme and impractical positions that he alienates many of the people who are against industrial farming.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

If you fly around England using Google Earth you see an awful lot of golf courses. Perhaps they should be re-wilded first? Although there would be much resistance from a few people. Not easy being a guru is it?

Mary McFarlane
Mary McFarlane
2 years ago

Perhaps George Monbiot should try farming instead of preaching, but then he might have to take responsibility. I wonder what he eats?

Last edited 2 years ago by Mary McFarlane
Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
2 years ago

Cattle emit lots of methane, which is a greenhouse gas. But that methane fairly quickly gets oxidised back to CO2, which is absorbed by green plants and then eaten by (inter alia) cattle. It’s a closed cycle, which we used to learn about for O-levels, 50 years ago. So what am I missing?

Bronwen Saunders
Bronwen Saunders
2 years ago

Monbiot clearly knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

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2 years ago

Visited Woodchester Mansion this weekend where an informative guide told us that the cattle stir up the grass during the day, creating swarms of flying insects that the bats devour after dark …. there’s the wide world and there’s Monbiot’s narrow hobby horse

David Pardey
David Pardey
2 years ago

I own 7.5 acres of woodland that was used as grazing till 1960s. The trees are the product of leaving land ungrazed. This is rewilding. Half the trees are now dying from ash dieback, imported into the UK because the eu prevented biological controls on imports and the undercroft is becoming unpassable as brambles spread (unless they are cut back or sprayed). If I fenced it I could have used pigs to keep it clear, but that would mean excluding my fellow villagers from walking the paths that aren’t public FP.

Rewilding means letting land become unusable by humans, for farming or for human pleasure. Given Monbiot seems to hate both (farming and human pleasure), I’m not surprised he likes rewilding.

Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
2 years ago
Reply to  David Pardey

I appreciate your willingness for walkers to traverse your property. If you fenced your property for pigs but placed gates for walkers, could they be trusted to shut the gates? Ah but then you might have liability issues in case of pig – human conflict.

Keith Brennan
Keith Brennan
2 years ago

Hi John,
thanks for the post. I write as a smallscale livestock farmer (Sheep, goats, pigs, honeybees) on a no spray no chemical fertiliser farm. So. Farming like it was 1799.
I see several problems with bit George’s position and with yours. George first.
George wants to give large amounts of cash, granting and cheap land to the companies who have largely created the multilayered existential crisis we are currently in. The people who will implement the infrastructire, technology, who will deliver the product, and who will profit from it are largely the same food companies, chemical companies, and agri multinationals who, together with the deamnd for the prodice, have largely created the problems. Cargill, Nestle, Bayer, these wioll be the people hoovering up gvenrment money to solve the problems they have created.
Blaming farmers for this is a bit like coming down hard on the match and lighter manufacturers union because someone has set fire to your city and handing wads of cash to a bloke called Highburn Freehly who turns up stinking of petrol with scorched jumper sleeves and claims to know an awful lot about fire.
Don’t give all the money to people who have made immense profits from creating the problem. Don;t take all the money from the people who work on the assembly line.
Second problem. Buy in. George is a fan of massively ambitious projects implemening as yet unproven technologies that have not been tested to scale and involve massive life changes for large swathes of the generally poorer sections of society. The neclear powerplants he was backing ten years ago weren;t going to be built in Knightsbridge. The farmers who have to sell their land to pay debts accrued on businesses they are no longer allowed to have won’t typicall be absentee Scittish ebstate owners and agri multinationals. Additionally, food is identity, pleasure, culture and tradition. People are usually willing to sacrifice many pther things before they sacrifice identity and tradition. From Spanish Chorizo to Cumberland Sausages to American Barbecue. You have to pry identity from people’s cold dead hands. Buy in is an issue.
Farmer buy in is less of an issue. We are a weakening lobby with decreasing political, economic and popular power. Useful for large agri companies who will be looking for cheap land to but from broke farmers to grow large scale soy and corn crops on to feed the fermenters.
Geoirge is willing to take money and power from people who have little – farmers, leverage their key asset – land – and give all three to large companies, with unproven technologies, that have not been tested at scale. And despite the fact that this is largely their problem and has been their revenue model, will take it on faith that they have the solution and will help reengineer our whole society to accomodate them, furnishing them with immense public and cheap private resources to do so.
But there’s problems with Johns assertions too.
The scarcity of food. You talk about the potential futire scarcity of food like it will happen in the context we have now. And argue it;s a matter of distribution not production. First off. In 30 years time we won;t hve out current context. Our weather will be far less predicatable, our cultivateable area of land will be decreasing, our population will be larger, and modes of production will probably not be available. Our soils will be more degraded. Our biodiversity – and the agri benefits we net from that are likely to be undermined. Hope for the best John. But plan for the worst. I fear you hope for the best and you also plan for it. And leave it at that.
There’s also absolutely no doubt – and I say this as a livestock farmer – that we are a major part of the problem. And going organic won’t cut it. We do need more space for biodiversity. A lot more. Organis production currently is significantly reliant on conventional sources of NPK. It;s nt spread directly on the land as fertiliser. But manures and composts from conventional sources currently make up a large percentage or organic NPK inputs. And arguing that some organic on farm bodiveristy is better than some conventioanl farms biodiversity by 34% is meaningless. 34% beter than a Californian Almond farm or a 500 acre conventioal soy farm is…well. That’s frankly dreadful. It is slight. It’s nect to nothing.
Farming absolutely needs to change. It is part of the problem. It needs to lead in being a progressive, hard working, laser focused part of the solution. And conventional farming, and a large amount of organic farming isn’t. If we don’t lead, and lead with practical, hard headed and revolutionary solutions, we will be ;ead to change. By people like George. And other people who want to throw money rather than careful thpought at problems. We will suffer. We will be marginalised. And we will, quite possibly, cease.
Because the large food companies, chemical companies, multinational agri companies, will come with well funded, well marketed, off the shelf technological solutions. And farming will still be truculently stonewalling about herd sizes, traditional rights, landrace breeds of turkey, being here for 800 years, and how lovely a field of grass is. And the food companies will eat us alive.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Keith Brennan

Thank you for the inside perspective, very interesting.

Rich Osborn
Rich Osborn
1 year ago
Reply to  Keith Brennan

Well said. I sometimes wonder – as I watch him fearlessly face hundreds of farmers at Oxford Real Farming conference to tell them that their existence is threatened by food technology factories – whether George Monbiot’s underlying intention is to force the “laser focus of farmers to lead with well thought through revolutionary” solutions you call for. “Don’t shoot the messenger!” he says to them. I wonder why else would he put himself through it? He’s undoubtedly a smart guy with the best of intentions and must know that his vision of 100% rewilding is way too far from today’s reality to be a viably realistic prospect in time to save our planet from irreversible destructive tipping points. I can’t believe, deep down, he wants to shift the food market even further towards a few oligopolistic market controllers and away from small scale land owner/farmers. His seemingly unreasonably binary and extremist position can only be explained as being designed to create controversy, debate and dynamism in the pertinent areas of a slow-to-change industry. Afterall, surely everyone can agree that change in farming is pivotal to the ongoing existence of life on Earth.

Peter B
Peter B
2 years ago

“The biggest population crisis is not the growth in human numbers, but the growth in livestock numbers”.
If that is true, it’s because the livestock numbers rise in proportion to human numbers !
The man’s a dolt. But that’s not news to me.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter B

That is a cultural / habitual relationship, not a logical one. It only applies if the humans eat meat to the same or greater extent than they now do. (This may be changing at least in the West). I hold no brief for Monbiot’s views in general, although I WOULD like to see some areas, such as in the Scottish Highlands now solely used for shooting sports, rewilded. However he argues against widespread and increased meat eating for precisely this reason. Your accusation is therefore wide of the mark in this instance.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago

Do cattle and sheep really bring an unprecedented amount of methane into the atmosphere? I wonder. Before the last few centuries, there were far more bison, buffaloes, deer, antelope, elephants, rhinos, hippos, etc. These are, I believe, all ruminants, just like the domesticated animals now blamed for ecological disaster. The wild species would, therefore, likely produce as much methane per unit of weight as the farm animals. I’ve wondered about this for some time now, and would appreciate an answer from someone more knowledgeable than myself. Thanks.
On another topic mentioned in the article: where would the bacteria in these soups get their own sustenance? For them to grow, they need to feed on something themselves. What exactly would that be in Monbiot’s farm-free future?

Deborah Bromley
Deborah Bromley
2 years ago

An unpleasant but environmentally sustainable idea popped into my head. If farm animals are not on the menu in the future, then surely tasty (but a bit sinewy) vegan eco warriors might fill the gap. I’ve got a slow cooker and this makes even the most unpalatable and opinionated fare quite tender. Don’t forget the casserole basics of carrots, onions celery and perhaps a splash of wine. Season generously and voilĂ !

Henry Brookman
Henry Brookman
2 years ago

I live in West Sussex. What is striking is how little livestock grazes here. No dung, no insects, no birds. Modern regulation has made it impossible for a smallholder to keep a cow.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

Our county looks like farmland but a significant amount is for horsey pursuits and we don’t eat horseflesh.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

In ‘the good old days’ we used to sell a lot to France, Exmoor ponies and the like. I presume that has now ceased?

David Simpson
David Simpson
2 years ago

Just lovely. Is he really such an idiot (Monbiot that is)?

Nina Murden
Nina Murden
2 years ago

Monbiot literally doesn’t understand shit.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Organic is considerably less productive than intensive agriculture, as the vast majority of studies find:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03650340.2021.1946040

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

I think both Monbiot and Lewis-Stempel tend towards utopianism, although Lewis-Stempel has more practical experience of farming.
However, he really does set up the flimsiest of ‘straw men’ in his argument about re-wilding. Of course this can’t be done to any significant extent on farmed land, but I consider the prospect of re-introducing previously persecuted species in some areas as rather magnificent, and there are many opportunities. (The Knepp Estate is in Sussex!). Some people can be are nostalgic about the changes to the countryside in their lifetime, but of course have no experience of just how many species have disappeared – Monbiot is good on that ‘shifting baseline’ effect.
Land owners used to shoot birds of prey and mammals as a matter of course; some of this was practical but some had little reason behind it. I would like to think most people now do not consider themselves at war with nature in that way. There are huge areas of land that ARE suitable for rewilding projects. Many people would pay to see such species and parts of the Scottish Highlands now solely used for shooting sports, could well be suitable.

robin michael
robin michael
2 years ago

Isn’t a chemical free hay meadow just as unnatural as a conventionaly farmed cornfield?

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  robin michael

If only ‘natural’ will suffice, perhaps we should abolish clothing and dentistry while we’re at it. The question isn’t what’s ‘natural,’ it’s where the balance is struck between humans and the rest of the environment. And if there are win-win options, so much the better.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

Yes, this is the problem with the theorist – it’s easy to see things in extremes, it’s simpler, and nicely matches the emotions.

It’s a bit like growing stuff in the backyard, you both aren’t as fussy as to the shape and appearance of the fruit or vegetable, and you don’t waste it as easily. I still find it easier to throw out food that I bought, because I just buy more, whereas I really annoy myself if I waste food that I bothered to grow!

Eventually life teaches compromise – food production won’t be 100% moral or 100% environmentally correct. We can only do our reasonable best. Before we set impossible standards we should look for the do-able improvements e.g. perhaps we don’t need to buy quite as many fresh flowers flown in from the other side of the world, just because we can.

Last edited 2 years ago by Russell Hamilton
Richard Bruce
Richard Bruce
2 years ago

It seems to me that George Monbiot has been convinced that all science can be relied upon and that Nature can undo all the damage caused by the increasing human population and the way it is slowly destroying the natural world. Sadly he is wrong on all too many counts. I remember some excellent articles he wrote for the Guardian Weekly years ago but since then he appears to favour genetic engineering and even nuclear power with all their uncertainties. e should remember the law of unexpected consequences – and the problems already realised. To blame farming and even the poor cattle for all our ills is to forget the fact that our lives and our soils have been sustained by livestock. How many of the Vegan Activists owe their early lives to powdered milk – from the very dairy farms they wish to destroy? I fear that the constant attack on farms will trigger famine soon. My own time in farming was triggered by calls for greater food production to feed the starving masses around the world the 1960s but now I realise it was a con because politics causes starvation, even in Britain. Farming is not what it was and we should work with nature and stop deceiving the world into believing that the chemicals used are “safe” – they are not and, as one poisoned by them over 30 years ago, I can say with certainty that they are capable of causing the increasing serious illnesses in our population. That is not the fault of farming but of Goverment failure to regulate and ensure safety. It seems that the chemical companies control Government policy – and Mr Monbiot’s thoughts. Nuclear is not the answer to Global Warming – it heats the oceans and the air and the waste is deadly for thousands of years – energy USE is the problem.

N T
N T
2 years ago

I think you should be cautious, as you are at risk of boring a gaping hole in your cheek with your tongue.

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1 year ago

wow, good articles today so far.
Unherd is very variable, some days it’s all common sense (as we all know, very uncommon), like this article and other days it’s all nonsense.

Thanks to John Lewis-Stempel for this take.