Philip Lymbery: "The problem is that these things are so huge – so many animals in usch a small space that it’s not only cruel to the animals but you have a tremendous problem of what to do with all that muck. So, inevitably you have pollution but it also renders the meat less healthy – very high in saturated fats. It’s unnecessary and unnatural.

"There’s been a creeping industrialisation of the countryside in Europe. Bird populations have been decimated – tree sparrows by 97%. Butterflies and bees too – Britain has less than a quarter of the bees it needs to pollinate its crops. These are serious, serious consequences.

"And there’s a growing push towards US-style industrialisation with mega-dairies, with battery rearing of beef, with GM crops is likely to ramp all of this up and take the countryside to a new tipping point, a new low."

Don’t we need food production to be industrialised to ensure food security?

"A food system that started out with good intentions after WWII has taken a wrong turn. We know that the internationalisation of the food system can be good and bad. I’ve seen the bad – for example GM soya grown in Argentina for Europe, the way the seas off Peru are plundered to feed industrial livestock. But. I’ve also seen healthy food, countryside friendly production in other countries from which we can learn. We aren’t sayin that big is always bad, it’s how it’s done. But when it’s intensive with too many animals in little space then it’s dangerous."

Some people say supermarkets drive industrial farming. They also offer too many types of the same product?

"The system has broken down. There appears to be lots of choice but are we really able to make the choices on offer? Much meat comes with the label ‘fresh’. I know that in the egg market many people think ‘fresh’ means ‘free-range’ but that isn’t the case. Even supermarket managers sometimes believe that."

What about the health consequences of eating this industrially produced food? Some people believe cancer may be related to the way modern people eat and what they eat.

Increasingly the consumption of food with saturated fats, and the over -consumption of food is implicated. A study in the Lancet said that if we reduced our consumption by 30% we would see a 15% reduction in serious cardio-vascular disease. These are the hidden costs of eating cheap-meat. I am arguing for a rebalancing of the way our food is produced. This book is not about ‘poor animals. It is not anti-meat or anti-corporate. What we are saying is the food system internationally is broken. It needs fixing to avoid 'Farmageddon'."

(VoR)