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  • Are you planning to campaign to ban animal agriculture?
    No. WePlanet acknowledges that a dramatic reduction in animal agriculture is necessary to stabilise our climate, improve food security and biodiversity and reduce animal suffering. However, evidence demonstrates that people are more willing to change their behaviour when alternatives are a choice made on grounds such as cost, ease of access, social acceptability, and taste. This is why we advocate for a scaling up of techniques like precision fermentation which will allow alternative proteins to become affordable, accessible and with the same benefits as existing animal products.
  • Don’t we need animals to keep soils healthy?
    While animals do play a role in certain aspects of soil fertility, such as nutrient cycling and organic matter decomposition, there are alternative methods and practices that can be employed to achieve similar outcomes. Soil health primarily depends on factors such as nutrient availability, organic matter content, microbial activity, and soil structure. These factors can be managed through various approaches, such as crop rotation, cover cropping, composting, and the use of non-animal fertilisers. These methods can help maintain soil fertility and provide essential nutrients to plants without relying solely on the involvement of animals. Additionally, technological advancements in agriculture, such as precision farming and controlled-release fertilisers, allow for targeted nutrient application and better soil management, reducing the reliance on animals for soil health. However, it's important to note that the role of animals in soil health should not be disregarded entirely. Animals, particularly grazing livestock, can contribute to soil fertility through their manure, which adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil. They also aid in the breakdown of plant material through grazing and trampling, enhancing decomposition processes. In certain ecosystems and agricultural systems, the presence of animals can have significant benefits for soil health. But this in no way resembles the current levels of livestock production. Ecosystems which benefit from grazing; do so only because where there are relatively low numbers of grazers, not at all at the level of an economically viable farm.
  • We haven’t seen mass adoption of plant based alternatives to meat, why do you think this would be different?
    Food is part of our culture, our lifestyle, our preferences and our habits. At all these levels, there’s no denying it; change is hard. However, shifts are possible. On the level of the individual, we believe a combination of factors will contribute to the adoption of sustainable proteins. Those are price, taste, availability and convenience. Currently, plant-based alternatives; and new sustainable proteins are where solar panels were in the 80’s, or electric vehicles were in the nineties. They were more expensive, less convenient; and far less available. With concerted effort from both the government end and business end, that radically changed though. So we expect new sustainable proteins like those involving precision fermentation to become tastier, cheaper and more available: however, we need to accelerate their development. Apart from working on taste, price and availability, we know it’s important that more people become aware of the issues with our current (meat/dairy heavy) food system. By raising awareness, people will be more inclined to try alternatives.
  • Do humans need meat and dairy to be healthy?
    No. Humans have historically got certain micronutrients from meat and dairy. However, this is now possible via alternative sources such as protein, vitamins, fats and oils made via precision fermentation.
  • Isn't this ultra processed food?
    Firstly, it’s important to state that the Reboot Food campaign (of which fundfuturefood is one part) starts with the principle that a varied, wholefood, plant-based diet should be the basis of our food system. However, if we want to get serious about transforming our food systems, we need to be grown-ups about the role that ultra-processed foods (UPFs) are currently playing. Today, the standard Western diet is dominated by ultra-processed foods. UPFs account for 60% of calories consumed by Americans – and the figure is similar in many developed economies. Meanwhile in the developing world the proportion of calories from UPFs is rapidly increasing. Whilst in an ideal world it would be great if we could convince the general public to ditch their frozen pizzas and start eating bowls of whole grains, beans and pulses overnight, in reality this is not going to happen any time soon. So if we want a pragmatic plan to stop food killing the planet, we need to find a way to make UPFs that don’t involve felling our remaining rainforests and overheating our planet.
  • Will food made with precision fermentation have the same nutrients as foods we already consume?
    Foods we consume today have a wide range of nutrients which reflects the wide variety of foods we consume, from seeds and nuts through to cheese, ice cream and soft drinks. As food made via precision fermentation is aiming to be a genuine alternative to food products we currently consume today, efforts are being made to include the same or similar nutrient content. Whether a food product is made via precision fermentation or not, we should be advocating for nutritious foods that ensure the ongoing health and well-being of humanity. In short, techniques like precision fermentation can feasibly provide a whole array of nutrients. That said, a standard healthy diet centres around plants, is varied, and has important micro and macronutrients. Proteins, fats; and specific micronutrients can be derived from sustainable proteins.
  • Is the genetic engineering of food dangerous?
    Precision fermentation doesn’t necessarily involve genetic engineering of microbes. Other techniques such as accelerated evolution can achieve similar results. But genetic engineering isn’t something to be scared of anyway. Most of the foods you eat on a daily basis, except for rarities like wild fish, have been genetically modified and are in that sense ‘unnatural’. Teosinte was made into corn through careful selective breeding by Native Americans, and cows, chickens and pigs today barely resemble their ancient counterparts. What’s different is the way we genetically modify them. The ‘old’ method was to select for certain mutations so that a desired trait (more kernels on a cob of corn for example) would breed into a next generation. In the 20th century we added another method called ‘mutation breeding’, which is the process of exposing seeds to radiation, in order to generate mutants with desirable traits to be bred with other cultivars. This ‘scattershot’ approach was then improved upon by direct genetic engineering (known as GM), in which new genes are added. And currently an even more precise technique is making headway, CRISPR, by which we can edit genes directly.
  • Won’t this technology result in a concentration of control by large corporations over our food system?
    The food sector is already highly concentrated, and specifically the meat sector is dominated by fewer than five key players. Technology is just technology; it is how we use that technology that determines whether it benefits society. To ensure any technology benefits society, we need responsible government and public accountability, such as via strong anti-trust laws and regulations. It is for this reason that democratic governments need to take a proactive role in shaping this emerging industry. This is the only way we can guarantee society sees the benefits of a diversified sustainable protein industry and not a future in which our food supplies are dominated by Silicon Valley tech giants.
  • This seems like a tech solution for the wealthy, what about those in developing communities that depend on farming?
    It’s true that scaling up precision fermentation will require significant investment. That’s why RePlanet is advocating for wealthy nations in the Global North to make this investment first. This will bring down costs, making the technology more accessible for developing communities. A great example of this has been investment in solar and wind energy. The investments made by countries in the Global North helped reduce the cost of these technologies to the point where we are now seeing global deployment. But this alone is not enough. International investment, climate finance and philanthropic funds now urgently need to be directed towards helping the countries of the Global South develop their own sustainable protein tech-hubs so they too can reap the benefits of diversified protein options.
  • Rewilding is a neocolonial construct based on our romantic beliefs about the wilderness
    We’re in an ecological emergency. Wildlife populations are plummeting, whole ecosystems are collapsing and up to a million species now face possible extinction. The web of life on which humanity depends is now threatened. In this context, large scale restoration of flourishing wild ecosystems is the most urgent imperative of our times. 'Rewilding' is a broad term which can have many different meanings. RePlanet is aware that it can sometimes have problematic connotations. However, we use rewilding in its broadest sense to mean the restoration of ecosystems and the reduction of human impact on Earth's systems. How this is achieved is something we understand will require participatory democracy, cultural sensitivity, and a range of other factors appropriate to specific efforts. Ultimately RePlanet sees rewilding as a human-led and human inclusive endeavour in which people are a part of not apart from nature-rich landscapes.
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