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Lab-grown Meat 06/22/11

Could meat grown in a laboratory solve environmental and ethical issues?


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An  article in the Telegraph this morning reports on an Oxford-led study that suggests cultured issue could reduce the emissions created by food production by up to 96%. While we have been able to grow tissue in laboratories for some time, this  study seems to provide a strong environmental motive for growing meat in this way.

As most of us would agree, rearing animals for consumption is extremely taxing on the environment – requiring large areas of land and volumes of water. In addition, the growing rise in demand means a growth in factory farms and inevitably, worsening conditions for the animals involved.

According to the article:

“The process would use up to 45 per cent less energy than conventional meat, only one per cent of the land and a tiny fraction of the water required, according to a study to be published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.”

Those involved reckon that commercial lab-grown meat could be available in the next five years.

Hanna Tuomisto, of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit told the Guardian:

“However, our research shows that cultured meat could be part of the solution to feeding the world’s growing population and at the same time cutting emissions and saving both energy and water.

“Simply put, cultured meat is, potentially, a much more efficient and environmentally friendly way of putting meat on the table.”

The debate around animal ethics and lab-grown meat has been around for some time, but perhaps this could be a solution to those who are not able or willing to adopt a meat-free diet?

What do you think?

 

 

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Laura Cooke is the editor and creator of the Veggie Bunch website and community.


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2 Responses to this article

 
Jodi Allemeier June 22, 2011 Reply

This is a topic that comes around fairly frequently.

For me the issues are as follows:

1) How are the original cells obtained?

2) Even at 45% less energy, its still more than plant-based proteins.

3) The cost & the effect on demand for meat overall – this is not a financially viable option and won’t be for a while to come. As long as we endorse alternatives like this, we endorse the idea that meat is necessary. As lab meat becomes available to a wealthier elite we increase the aspirational value of meat – i.e. that meat is an indicator of wealth etc – and may actually increase demand for meat products – including those not grown in the lab – overall.

4) Health – is the meat grown to be cholesterol free etc? Do we fully udnerstand the health impacts of lab grown proteins on our digestive system etc?

5) Stigma – even for those “unwilling to adopt a meat-free diet”, they may also be unwilling to eat lab grown meat due to a stigma around “frankenstein food” etc etc – why not use the marketing energy that would be needed to overcome that stigma, to overcome the idea that a meat-free diet is somehow lacking?

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Editor: Laura June 22, 2011 Reply

Thanks Jodi. I wonder whether the idea will ever get off the ground… I guess we will have to wait and see if it ever becomes a reality.

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