Friday, July 7, 2017

Lab-Grown Meat: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A piece of meat in a petri dish.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
The idea of lab-grown meat is enough to makes most peoples’ skin crawl. But a lot of the fear and negativity surrounding in vitro meat is due to a lack of understanding on the public’s behalf. If the public were made more aware of the benefits of cultured meat, then perhaps there wouldn’t be such a stigma around it.

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t any downfalls to lab-grown meat, because there certainly are. However, for now I want to focus on the pros. I’ll touch on the cons later.

Perhaps the biggest case for producing lab-grown meat is how it could reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation of grazing land. According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The farm animal sector is the single largest anthropogenic user of land, contributing to many environmental problems, including global warming and climate change.”

What’s worse is that the global production of meat has more than double since 1970. The good news is that cultured meat could provide the perfect solution to this problem.

According to foodandnutrition.org, “Researchers comparing the production of cultured and conventional meat found that producing 1,000 kilograms of cultured meat involves approximately 7 percent to 45 percent lower energy use, 78 percent to 96 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions, 99 percent lower land use and 82 percent to 96 percent lower water use.”

So what’s the catch, then? Cultured meat is expensivereally expensive.  

In 2013, a researcher by the name of Mark Post actually produced the world’s first burger made from bovine stem cells. It cost over $300,000 to make. So yeah, there’s that.

However, scientists do believe that the cost of producing in vitro meat will decrease as researchers refine the process. In other words, it’s going to take time.

Tell me: would you try lab-grown meat? Do you believe that the government should invest more money into sponsoring this type of agricultural development? 
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