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Intensive animal agriculture is unsustainable. Producing large quantities of foods to meet the ever-growing demand for proteins is not without consequences: deforestation, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, antibiotic over-use and the depletion of natural resources.
It is also extremely costly: taxpayers currently subsidise UK agriculture to the tune of £3 billion a year, and it has been estimated that around 75 per cent of such subsidies go to livestock farming. Despite this, today’s agriculture contributes just 0.5 per cent of overall GDP, and this figure is falling.
We must find other ways to meet our protein demand in a more sustainable way.
But British farmers must be part of the solution. Innovation in alternative proteins can benefit farmers by future-proofing them from the increasing impact on farming from climate change and other global disruptions.
Incentivising farmers to move into alternative protein production systems by reallocating subsidies, providing assurance that the products of alternative protein industries will be permitted and procured with public contracts, and supporting agricultural workers in upskilling to learn about how they can benefit from alternative protein production can ensure that the British farming community is a part of the sustainable protein transition.
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