CONTROVERSIAL ENVIRONMENTAL campaigner George Monbiot has advised farmers to ‘get out now’, warning that the agricultural age is coming to an end and that the future is synthetic food.

Speaking ahead of his new film ‘Apocalypse Cow’ airing on channel 4 this evening (Wednesday, January 8), he shared some of his discoveries from the filming process, one of which involves meeting a company which is making food from water.

“We went to Finland and looked at what a company called Solar Foods are doing, where they are making food from water and are able to produce protein at high volumes, easily and cheaply on demand. We are talking about revolutionary change.”

He went on to state that farming has been useful for 12,000 years but that the time is up and claimed that farmed food will be gone by the middle of the century.

“We are now seeing people developing feed stocks at laboratory scale which will be far more efficient and far cheaper than anything farming can produce.

“Meat will still be meat,” he continued, “but will be produced on collagen scaffolds in factories rather than in the body of an animal.”

In his recent column in The Guardian newspaper, Mr Monbiot was indifferent to the potential loss of millions of jobs which would ensue if what he predicts to be the future loss of farming is to take place.

He wrote: “Farmfree production promises a far more stable and reliable food supply that can be grown anywhere, even in countries without farmland. It could be crucial to ending world hunger,” he argued. “But there is a hitch: a clash between consumer and producer interests. Many millions of people, working in farming and food processing, will eventually lose their jobs. Because the new processes are so efficient, the employment they create won’t match the employment they destroy.”

Mr Monbiot has suggested that the government should stop pouring subsidies into a ‘dying industry’ and instead use the money to help farmers get out of the sector.

“These farm-free foods could make the difference between planetary catastrophe and planetary survival.”

He concluded by comparing the potential move away from farming to the past closure of coal mines and switch to renewables, which he agreed was upsetting for coal miners but insisted was a beneficial necessity

At today’s Oxford Farming Conference, the question of feeding a growing population and addressing food security was never far from discussions. Defra secretary Theresa Villiers informed the delegates that the agricultural bill would be back on the table in the next fortnight with additional provisions on food security, insisting that farming would play a huge role in meeting these challenges.

She was questioned by audience member and farmer Tom Clark as to whether the government was on the side of farmers, referring to the rising anti-farming rhetoric in the climate change debate: “Does Defra understand farmers to be a resource and ally in the face of these challenges?”

The secretary replied: “Well managed sustainable livestock production can be beneficial in addressing climate change. Simplistic labelling of meat eating as negative for the planet when it comes to the standards we apply in this country is misleading.”