FAKE meat made in laboratories will kill off most global farming by the middle of this century.

That is the claim from Oxford environmentalist George Monbiot.

The Rose Hill resident made his prediction after visiting a lab in Finland where scientists have made food out of pure water.

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The futuristic food is churned out by bacteria in a laboratory set-up which could be powered by solar panels, making it a completely meat-free and zero-carbon food source.

Mr Monbiot's visit is shown in a Channel 4 documentary airing tonight.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme this morning at this year's Oxford Farming conference, Mr Monbiot said: "Farming has been incredibly useful for humankind for the past 12,000 years but the agricultural age is coming to an end.


A handful of Finnish company Solar Foods Ltd's single-cell protein - an artifical meat alternative made by bacteria from nothing but air and water. Picture: Solar Foods Ltd/ Facebook

"We are now seeing people developing feedstocks at a laboratory scale which will be far more efficient, far cheaper than anything farming can produce.

"For the film we went to Finland and looked at what a company called Solar Foods is doing, where they are making food from water and are able to produce protein at very high volumes very cheaply and very easily on demand.

"We're talking about revolutionary change."

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In the programme, Apocalypse Cow: How Meat Killed the Planet', Mr Monbiot became the second person to eat a pancake made of Solar Food's 'single cell protein'.

After tucking in, he said that farming was possibly already in a rapid 'death spiral' sparked by labs making the industry unprofitable.


Mr Monbiot told the BBC: "Some people are talking about what they call a death spiral, whereby certain products get manufactured in factories such as, for instance, casin and whey proteins, which are just three per cent of your litre of milk but they are the crucial, expensive three per cent, and once those are being manufactured in the factory then dairy farming, which already has very tight margins, just isn't profitable any more there's just no possibility of it making a living so then you see a very quick downward spiral.

"Possibly by mid-century we will see most farming in the world no longer there."

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He also claimed that such food was likely to be 'a lot cheaper than anything farming can produce'.

He added: "Meat will still be meat but it will be produced on collagen scaffolds in factories rather than in the body of an animal."

Asked by presenter Charlotte Smith about how he thought farmers would react to his suggestions, he predicted that many would ignore him and try to discredit his ideas, but at their peril.

He said: "I completely understand why farmers feel threatened and defensive but these shifts are happening.

"You can shoot the messenger if you like but I'm saying that this is what is taking place and it's going to happen very quickly once it takes off.

"I am saying yes, it's going to be largely beneficial, just as getting out of coal and switching to renewables is largely beneficial, even though coal miners were very upset about the closing of coal mines.

"I completely understand farmers are upset about this but my advice to them, not that I expect any of them to take my advice, would be 'get out now'."