Last week (5th and 6th October), Compassion and WWF-UK played host to a landmark conference in London that explored the devastating impact of livestock production on animals, people and the planet.
The Extinction and Livestock conference was the world’s first international conference where more than 50 of the best minds in the fields of ecology, agriculture, public health, biology, oceanography, eco-investment and food retailing joined forces over two days to examine how modern meat production affects life on earth and to brainstorm ways to revolutionise the world’s food and farming systems to prevent mass species extinctions.
High profile speakers calling for a radical shift in global food policy included: food activist Raj Patel; author Dr Carl Safina; bee expert Professor Dave Goulson; environmentalist Tony Juniper; naturalist Chris Darwin, and many more.
The food industry was represented by a number of speakers including:
- Jim Perdue, Chair of Perdue Farms in the US, took part in a discussion with Leah Garces, USA Executive Director at CIWF, on ‘Partnering for higher welfare’.
- Cheryl Queen, Vice President Communications & Corporate Affairs, Compass Group joined a ‘Future Food Solutions’ panel alongside Josh Balk, Founder of Hampton Creek.
- Neil Barrett Group Senior Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Sodexo spoke about food waste and sustainability in the food service sector·
- Ignacio Blanco-Traba, Senior Director, Global Sustainable Sourcing at McDonald’s took part on a panel discussion on achieving a flourishing food system.
- Kevin Brennan, CEO of Quorn Foods talked about the opportunities and prospects for meat alternatives.
- Seth Goldman, Co-Founder of Honest Tea and Executive Chair of Beyond Meat spoke about tacking health, climate and animal welfare in one bite!
- Ecological poultry farmer, Ruud Zanders, talked about his latest project Kipster; a revolutionary poultry farm that produces higher welfare eggs and meat with no use of fossil fuels and minimal pressure on the environment.
There was also an evening event, hosted by Compassion’s patron Joanna Lumley, where guests were served the Beyond Burger - currently only available in the US - along with a range of other innovative plant-based foods.
Compassion’s CEO, Philip Lymbery, said: “We need a total rethink of our food and farming systems before it’s too late. Intensive livestock systems are at the heart of so many problems affecting health, food security, biodiversity, the environment and animal welfare.
“Unless we have a UN Convention to specifically tackle the wide-ranging impacts of food and farming, the targets on climate change won’t be achieved and our world will continue to be ravaged by our broken food systems.”
“The Extinction & Livestock conference is just the beginning of what will be an ongoing international process to identify solutions and build a broad-based coalition and movement to lobby UN member states and institutions for a UN Convention that properly secures food for future generations.”
Spreading the word
Extinction and Livestock has already gained extensive media coverage. Here is a small sample of the many headlines the conference has generated:
- BBC News: Food and farming policies ‘need total rethink’
- The Guardian: Why factory farming is not just cruel – but also a threat to all life on the planet
- Independent: Following the family tradition, Chris Darwin is leading the fight to protect animals from extinction
- The Guardian: Hidden cost of feeding grain to farm animals to hit $1.32tn a year