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Why the global food industry is killing wild animals and why it matters

September 30, 2017:

ARC's secretary-general Martin Palmer will be giving a talk at Compassion In World Farming's extraordinary and important Extinction and Livestock Conference: on 5 and 6 October 2017 on how over-farming is leading to extinction of species and why this is a crisis. Here Martin explains how a new narrative is needed, because the current system is about excess, greed and foolishness disguised as ‘market forces’.

Q1. Can you sum up – in just a few lines – what you think the main problems are with our current global food systems?

A: Our current food system is not about a healthy, sustainable world of food but about excess, greed and foolishness disguised as ‘market forces’. It treats the natural world as not something we are part of and therefore should treasure, but a larder we can raid and somehow hope it gets filled again. But the truth is, it won’t!

Q2. What motivated you to speak at this conference?

A: I have worked with Compassion in World Farming for over twenty years and I love what they have achieved, how they have done it and what they stand for. I also love the fact that they are the only group I know who use an emotional word in their title. I love the compassion angle because that is why I care.

Q3. Very briefly, what are the key points you will be making at Extinction17?

A: The major faiths of the world have managed for millennia to develop a sustainable relationship with the natural world because they taught us we just a part of a much greater story. We have destroyed that vision and relationship and turned the natural world into something we call eco-system deliverables. This tells a ridiculous story that all of evolution/creation call it what you want has taken place just for us. This modern myth is not just killing us. It is destroying our beautiful God-given world of nature.

Q4. What would you say to people involved in related industries, NGOs and government, etc. who may be thinking about attending the conference? Why should they attend?

A: We need a new narrative. We need to understand also that fear, guilt and blame disempower people from making good decisions. We need to inspire hope, belief in change and we need to know that this can only happen, one meal at a time, one person at a time. This means everyone of us can play a critical role.

Q5. What are you most looking forward to hearing about at the conference?

A: New styles of living; of harvesting; of celebration the wondrous generosity of nature but without taking that generosity for granted.

Q6. What would you most like to see happen as a result of the conference? Eg better implementation of SDGs, future collaboration between diverse interests etc

A: I would hope that all the key players - including the great faiths - would find a place at the table and together, each in their own distinctive way, will be able to inspire and guide us towards a better, fairer world.


Compassion in World Farming was founded in 1967 by a British dairy farmer who became horrified at the development of intensive factory farming.

Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming is author of the book Dead Zone:Where the Wild Things Were which explores the link between livestock production and the plight of some of the world’s most iconic and endangered species.

“Many people are aware that wild animals such as penguins, elephants and jaguars are threatened by extinction. However, few know that livestock production, fuelled by consumer demand for cheap meat, is one of the biggest drivers of species extinction and biodiversity loss on the planet," he said."

“Livestock production, the environment, wildlife conservation and human health are all interlinked so it’s vital that experts from each of these fields work together to come up with practical solutions to stop this before it’s too late.”

Other key speakers at the conference include: award-winning author, Dr Carl Safina; 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; Professor Frank Hu of Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

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, it has offices across Europe in the US, China and South Africa.


Full conference programme and to register

Press Release on the Extinction Conference

Faith in Food

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