Apocalypse Cow documentary - is lab food the future?
In the documentary Apocalypse Cow, environmentalist and writer George Monbiot argues that much of the current farming system (except for fruit and vegetable production) will be replaced by food from microbes, freeing up large areas of land for rewilding and carbon sequestration. He also calls for fruit and vegetable farming to be reformed, e.g. by using deep-rooted cover crops to build soil fertility.
Monbiot explains his reasoning in the column Lab-grown food will soon destroy farming – and save the planet. He describes the bacterial flour produced by Finnish company Solar Foods, claiming that this process produces biomass around ten times more efficiently than through photosynthesis. He estimates that the Solar Foods process, if powered by solar panels, could produce enough protein for everyone on Earth using an area the size of Ohio.
Reactions to the documentary were mixed, including:
- inews: Apocalypse Cow, Channel 4, review: Whether inspiring or enraging, a fascinating look at Britain's food future
- Feedback: Apocalypse Cow and techno-saviours? Time we thought about people & planet, not products
- Telegraph: Natural England beef over 'anti-meat' TV after Channel 4 show that called for end to all farming (this article contains a roundup of reactions from stakeholders including the Soil Association, the Food Ethics Council and Natural England)
- Food Navigator: ‘Cultured meat is fool’s gold’: Environmentalists lock horns over controversial documentary
- Meat Management: Criticism of Channel 4’s ‘Apocalypse Cow’ documentary
- Civil Eats: In the Rush to Solve Climate Change with Lab-Based Foods, Don’t Write off Farming
- The Cattle Site: NFU Responds to 'Apocalypse Cow' Documentary
- The Conversation: Apocalypse Cow: documentary’s vision for the future of food could leave farming in the past
Watch the documentary here. See also the Foodsource building block What is environmental efficiency? And is it sustainable?
Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.