Farming News - Factory farming poses a threat to humanity as big as climate change

Factory farming poses a threat to humanity as big as climate change

Taking its title from a chilling warning made by the United Nations that the world's soils could be gone within a lifetime, Sixty Harvests Left uncovers how the food industry threatens our world. Put simply, without soils there will be no food: game over. And time is running out.

On this World Environment Day, 5th June, Philip Lymbery's book, Sixty Harvests Left – How To Reach a Nature Friendly Future has never been more urgent.

Just out in paperback, this book is the first to shine a light on the dark side of food production.

An iconic book for our times that completes a powerful trilogy and achieves another 'first'. Sixty Harvests Left will be the first book to show that, far from being 'a necessary evil', factory farming is threatening the very survival of our planet and that ending the industrialisation of the countryside is key to saving our children's future.

Highly respected and successful author of the critically acclaimed best seller Farmageddon, Lymbery has delivered another influential book and a seminal read for those seeking smart, insightful analysis about the greatest challenge facing humankind.

He shines a light on the dark side of food production. He opens doors and our eyes to the reality of our global food system.

It will shock. It will make you think. But Lymbery makes it impossible to turn away. He confronts 'Big Ag', whose mega-farms, chemicals and animal cages are sweeping across the countryside around the world, and jeopardising the very air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the nature we treasure. And yet, Philip tells us, amidst all this doom and gloom, there is reason to be hopeful.

Lymbery spotlights the pioneers who are battling to bring landscapes back to life, in a world where wildlife, hens, pigs and people thrive by protecting the very thing that our civilisation is built on: soil.

With his flair for writing now well established and highly engaging storylines, award-winning author, Lymbery, has left his very best till last. It's a fine body of work. A fast-paced account of the existential threat of current food processes. Why food and future harvests have never mattered more. It's a book we've never needed more.

Philip Lymbery is Chief Executive of leading international farm animal welfare organisation Compassion in World Farming, as well as being a Visiting Professor at the University of Winchester, award-winning author and animal advocate. He was appointed an ambassadorial 'Champion' for the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021.

He has played a leading role in many major animal welfare reforms, including Europe-wide bans on veal crates for calves and barren battery cages for laying hens. He has also spearheaded Compassion's engagement with more than 1,000 food companies worldwide, leading to significant improvements in the lives of more than two billion farm animals every year.

His first book Farmageddon was listed as a Book of the Year by The Times, while the second book in the trilogy, Dead Zone, was selected as a 'Must Read' by the Daily Mail.

Key Facts and Figures

  • 37% of greenhouse gas emissions globally are caused by our food and the way we produce it.
  • The world has seen an average 68% drop in mammals, birds, fish, reptile and amphibian populations.
  • More than 40% of species in Britain have declined since 1970, while one in every seven of its wildlife species faces extinction.
  • Three-quarters of all human diseases originated from animals.
  • Since 1990, 25% of bee species have disappeared from records.
  • According to the United Nations '95% of our food is directly or indirectly produced on our soils'.
  • 36% of all the edible crop harvest, enough calories to sustain 4 billion people, is used for animal feed'.
  • In the UK, where 55% of cropland is used to grow animal feed, a third of that land could provide 62 million adults a year with their five daily recommended portions of fruit and vegetables.
  • New research reveals US-style mega-farm numbers have risen to nearly 1,100, including 745 poultry mega-farms in England and 59 in Wales, bringing into question the country's claim to be a nation of animal lovers.


The chilling title is the red flag; the contents, however, lay out all the remedies to save the planet and its species, including ours, and make for absorbing and sometimes terrifying reading. Minutely researched, and written for laymen as well as experts, Sixty Harvests Left reads like a thriller. It deserves to be read worldwide and acted upon immediately. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Dame Joanna Lumley

"In this beautifully written book Philip Lymbery describes how intensive agriculture harms the environment and inflicts suffering on sentient animals. But after visiting with and talking to those on the front line – scientists, farmers and food providers, he is able to show that there are sustainable alternatives. And that they are working. There is indeed hope for the future of our planet, and each one of us can play a part. I urge you to read 'Sixty Harvests Left'.

Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace

"Beautifully crafted. A compelling, excoriating account of industrial farming – how it is driving the climate and biodiversity emergencies, while also undermining our health. Full of insights and encounters with pioneers of new ways of farming, Sixty Harvests Left is a call to action – to change our world from the ground up. A vitally necessary book." 

Isabella Tree

"Powerful, purposeful and persuasive, read Philip Lymbery's book and we know what has to be done. It's simple really, look after the land, farm it sensitively, tread softly on this earth and all can still be well. We need to transform ourselves rapidly. This book is transformative. We must read, mark and learn, fast."

Sir Michael Morpurgo


"At the heart of sustainable change lies a recognition that all life on our planet is interconnected, and that our future depends on treating it with compassion and respect. In so doing, we can protect the world's wildlife and soils as if our life depends on it – because it does. The life expectancy of farmland soils would change from just sixty harvests left to one of infinite sustainability, while regenerative, agroecological farming can help end cruelty to animals, save wildlife, stabilise the climate and safeguard the planet for future generations. And to me, that seems like a future worth having."

Philip Lymbery