So lab-grown meat is supposed to stave off climate change because we won’t need as many flatulent animals wandering around the planet.
In a development that is as surprising as Joe Biden falling down, it turns out that fake meat is far, far, far, – “orders of magnitude” – worse for the environment than the regular hooved variety.
According to a UC Davis study, the creation of lab meat “is similar to the biotechnology used to make pharmaceuticals” and therefore – due to the manufacturing and technology involved – will cause lab-based meat to create “four to 25 times greater” the amount of naughty carbon dioxide and such than normal meat. Here’s the study.
The study does note that “(O)ne of the goals of the industry is to eventually create lab-grown meat using primarily food-grade ingredients or cultures without the use of expensive and energy-intensive pharmaceutical grade ingredients and processes.”
If this wish in the wind does to come to pass, it is possible that lab meat could squeeze out an advantage, but that is far from guaranteed.
A major California lab meat producer, the Bay Area’s partially Bill Gates-funded UPSIDE Foods, said the study has a major flaw – it’s not about the future.
“At UPSIDE Foods, we are confident that our commercial-scale production process will enable us to produce delicious meat that is sustainable, humane and affordable,” said company communications lead Brooke Whitney. “The UC Davis study’s assumptions do not align with industry practices that will be used in the near-term or at commercial scale. The study assumes a production and purification process which we believe greatly overestimates the environmental footprint for our cell feed formulations. Furthermore, it does not take into account the advancements the cultivated meat industry continues to make towards developing a cell feed input supply chain suitable for large-scale food production.”
UPSIDE also pointed to a different study that states that “CM (cultivated meat) has the potential to have a lower environmental impact than ambitious conventional meat benchmarks.” Here’s the study.
But, like UPSIDE’s, assertion, that study refers to nebulous future potentials as opposed to current, grounded facts and those future potentials are far from sure things.
“Our findings suggest that cultured meat is not inherently better for the environment than conventional beef. It’s not a panacea,” said study co-author Edward Spang, an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis “It’s possible we could reduce its environmental impact in the future, but it will require significant technical advancement to simultaneously increase the performance and decrease the cost of the cell culture media.”
Finally, the study noted that “the most efficient (real) beef production systems reviewed in the study outperform cultured meat across all scenarios…suggesting that investments to advance more climate-friendly beef production may yield greater reductions in emissions more quickly than investments in cultured meat.”
Instead of building fake cows bits, what if we put those gassy real cows just upwind of one those giant wind turbines? More electricity for free and not as many environmentally ickies created – seems more sustainable to me.
As to all of the other “fake meat” problems plaguing California that have been in the news recently, that story may be best left for another day.
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