Welfare boss uses study to attack intensive farming

Compassion in World Farming’s (CiWF) chief executive Philip Lymbery has used the results of a Europe-wide biodiversity survey to denigrate intensive farming, despite the majority of citizens’ confusion over biodiversity’s definition.

According to the responses from a recent Flash Eurobarometer of 25,537 European people, 94% think intensive farming is a threat to biodiversity. Yet, of those asked, only 44% said they knew what biodiversity was, 30% said they had heard of it, but didn’t know what it was, and 26% said they had never heard of it.

The statistics led Lymbery to take to his blog yesterday (12 November) to criticise the intensification of farming and the effect it has on biodiversity. He likened intensive farming to factory farming and wrote: “A survey carried out for the European Commission has shown that people across Europe are well aware of the effect intensive farming is having on biodiversity.”

He added that it was good to know that more European people linked the threat to biodiversity with intensive or “factory” farming and that intensifying production to feed a growing population was “nonesensical”.

Lymbery then told MeatInfo.co.uk that CiWF saw little difference between factory farming and intensive farming. “They prioritise maximum production above all else. Animals are treated as commodities and are often raised in intense confinement,” he said.

“It is highly dependent on the inefficient use of large quantities of limited resources, such as grain-based feed, water, energy and medication. This type of food production is inherently unsustainable because of the negative impacts on animals, people and the planet.”

However, British Poultry Council (BPC) head of external relations Caroline Leroux told MeatInfo.co.uk: “It’s disappointing to see that there are still many misconceptions about intensive farming. We’re at the forefront of sustainable production with an active green agenda, low input usages and a strong commitment to responsible sourcing of feedstuffs. The British poultry industry wholeheartedly supports European efforts to halt biodiversity loss.”

Leroux explained that the BPC works with the Environment Agency, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales when submitting planning applications for poultry farms or plants. “They will make sure that sites in a habitat area or an area of outstanding beauty will not have a negative impact on the habitat of the surrounding area,” she furthered.