Fears for food security are dominating talks on and off the platform at the Oxford Farming Conference. With an exploding world population and a 10 per cent drop in yields predicted for every degree rise in global temperatures, this is clearly a crucial challenge. But in rising to it, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past. Intensifying farming after the second world war, to maximize food production, caused considerable environmental damage, to wild birds, wild places and the quality of fresh water. These and other attributes of the environment are as central to our survival today as our ability to grow food. The environment's various parts store carbon, clean our water and provide a multitude of other ‘ecosystem services’ – benefits to humans from habitats, landscapes and species – all of which must be safeguarded. To do this, farmers’ leaders must very firmly put environmental security alongside food security if we are to have a truly sustainable future. And governments across the world must ensure that the production of biofuels particularly does not destroy habitats such as tropical rainforests, the Cerrado of Brazil and woodlands and wildflower areas at home, that store carbon and allow wildlife to thrive.