Never hectoring, always highly readable, Regenesis is an intelligent, deeply researched passion piece that ranges from microbiology to social justice by way of apple trees and GM wheat. There is a temptation when writing about enormous topics to oversimplify, to distinguish your own approach by promoting a single definitive solution. Monbiot resists this. He acknowledges, even embraces, the complexity of the crisis we face ... That is the greatest strength of this book: Monbiot’s beautifully simple explanation of why none of this is simple ... His glorious opening chapter, which should be compulsory reading for anyone who makes or, indeed, eats food, is about the ecosystem that supports all terrestrial life: soil. With delight, he details the complexity of an evolved relationship between bacteria, fungi, plants, tiny organisms (including members of an entire phylum I’d never heard of called symphylids), and the chemistry and geology of the planet. It’s this complexity we work with when we build our bodies from the sun’s energy using photosynthetic plants as our go-between. And today’s agricultural practices are messing it up ... I would have liked some of my own favourites – algae and insects – included, but the point Monbiot makes so ably and so necessarily is that system change is both essential and possible through a complexity of solutions ... The stakes could not be higher. If a book can change hearts and minds about one of the most critical issues of our time, this rational, humane polemic is it.
... a magnificent new overview of how we might live and feed ourselves without destroying ourselves ... Along with a dazzling array of stats, there’s also impressive investigative reporting ... Yet there are other moments — for instance, when Monbiot is proposing the overnight abolition of farming and thus farmers — where he sounds as cold as Robespierre ... That human numbers are never once addressed in the book is a serious evasion ... Still, with its rich food for thought, devastating figures, grim forecasts, startling insights and even the odd joke, Regenesis remains a hugely important read.
Monbiot thinks globally, looking beyond these shores to poorer nations that feel the impact of climate changes and the economic pressures most keenly ... His well-researched arguments are frequently eye-opening ... Monbiot is not a farmer, which frees him to have an outsider’s perspective. At the same time, he gives little consideration to the cultural side of farming, the realities of rewilding and its impact on rural populations. He criticises 'conventional organic farming' and 'foodies', which do not feel like the most important enemies ... The book ends with a call for farm abolition, which, after a lot of meticulously evidenced thinking, feels like a risky leap ... Despite it being hard to stomach for many of us from the countryside, Monbiot makes a convincing case. In desperate times, a shift to plant-based and even lab-grown food makes simple mathematical sense. Monbiot’s arguments take account of the needs of everyone in society, not just those who can afford premium meat, and not just those of us in the UK. Regenesis aims to be a gamechanger, and indeed it already makes ideas once thought radical seem tame ... But although the statistics in Regenesis are persuasive, the experiences described in Rooted counsel caution ... At this time of crisis and change in farming, when government subsidies are shifting and agricultural colleges are fuller than ever, we are lucky to have Langford and Monbiot leading the conversation, thinking seriously about answers and exploring both old ways and new.