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“The future of food is not safe in the hands of agribusiness companies,” says award-winning writer and food activist

Press Release   •   Aug 27, 2017 12:57 BST

Extinction and Livestock Conference: 5 and 6 October 2017 Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London #extinction17

Our ability to provide sustainable food for future generations is not safe in the hands of agribusiness companies, according to award-winning writer and food activist Professor Raj Patel.

Professor Patel, author of many books including the New York Times best-selling book, ‘The Value of Nothing’, made the statement in a filmed interview in which he talks about attending the landmark Extinction conference this autumn to speak on the impact of livestock production on human rights.

Organised by the charities Compassion in World Farming and WWF, it is the world’s first conference to explore the impact of livestock production on the environment, animals and humanity.

“If we look at the data, the scandals in Brazil, and the way these large companies have been behaving, then I’m afraid the evidence would suggest that the future of food is not safe in the hands of agribusiness companies,” says Professor Patel.

“The footprint of global agriculture is vast. Industrial agriculture is absolutely responsible for driving deforestation, absolutely responsible for pushing industrial monoculture, and that means it is responsible for species loss. We’re losing species we have never heard of, those we’ve yet to put a name to and industrial agriculture is very much at the spear-tip of that.”

Some of our most iconic wildlife, such as elephants, jaguars and penguins are threatened due to current farming practices. In places like Sumatra, the natural forest habitat of elephants is being destroyed to make way for palm plantations to help feed farm animals kept in industrial indoor systems. Penguins’ primary source of food is small fish which are being sucked from our oceans on a massive scale and ground into ‘fishmeal’ to feed billions of farmed salmon, pigs and chickens. The South African penguin population alone has plunged by at least 70% since 2004 due to the ongoing competition with commercial fishing for anchovies and sardines.

The Extinction Conference will take place on the 5th and 6th October 2017 at the QEII Centre, London and will bring together diverse interests such as conservation, biodiversity, agriculture, land and water use, environment, climate change, forests, ethics, food policy, production, security and business.

Key speakers include: World Food Prize winner, Hans Herren; Dr Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Senior Adviser for the Sustainable Development in the European Policy Strategy Center (EPSC) and former EC Director General for Environment (2009-2014), Karl Falkenberg; bee expert, Professor Dave Goulson, of the University of Sussex; Britain’s best-loved environmentalist Jonathan Porritt; and Professor Frank Hu of Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

“Going to a conference is not going to change the world and that’s not what conferences are for,” says Professor Patel. “Conferences are for forging the alliances and building the movement that will change the world.

“I can’t wait to learn from everyone whose name is on the programme. There are people there who routinely blow my mind and I suspect they will do that for you too,” he concludes.

Phillip Lymbery, Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming and author of the book Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were, which details the devastating impact of livestock production on wildlife, said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming Professor Patel and all our speakers to the Extinction Conference this autumn to discuss and find solutions to the impact of livestock production on animals, people and the planet before it’s too late.”

To find out more about the conference and to register visit


Media contact - for further information or to interview a spokesperson please contact the Compassion in World Farming media team on 01483 521995 -

Notes to editors:

  1. Compassion in World Farming was founded in 1967 by a British dairy farmer who became horrified at the development of intensive factory farming. Today Compassion is the leading farm animal welfare organisation dedicated to ending factory farming and achieving humane and sustainable food. With headquarters in the UK, we have offices across Europe in the US, China and South Africa.
  2. To view the video interview with Professor Patel
  3. Photographs of some of the wildlife affected by livestock production are available via
  4. Any media wishing to request a media pass to attend the Extinction conference should email
  5. Raj Patel is an award-winning writer, activist and academic, holding a Research professorship at the University of Texas and Senior Research Associate at Rhodes University, (UHURU). He has worked for the World Bank and WTO, and protested against them around the world. He is a fellow at The Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First. In 2016 he was recognized with a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award. Raj co-taught the 2014 Edible Education class at UC Berkeley with Michael Pollan. Raj has published widely in economics, philosophy, politics and public health journals, and he regularly writes for The Guardian and other newspapers. His first book was Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and his latest, The Value of Nothing, is a New York Times best-seller. He is currently working on a ground-breaking documentary project about the global food system with award-winning director Steve James. To find out more about Professor Patel visit his website at