Lab-grown meat is less sustainable than you think

Lab-grown meat, also known as cultured meat, artificial meat, or in vitro meat, is promoted as an ethical, sustainable, and even “clean” production by companies investing large sums in it. But according to some studies, it is not so.

Lab-grown meat is not as sustainable as we think. New and more accurate studies, such as those cited in the latest Meat Atlas, show that its production is more expensive in energy and water than traditional farms. In addition, a whole series of problems related to its lab cultivation disappoint many expectations.

Earlier studies had presented it as an exceptional high-tech solution, capable of solving all the problems related to the environment. Its supposed benefits have been exaggerated, and the spectacular data on its sustainability vastly inflated. More in-depth recent studies show the reality of the facts instead.

The first point highlighted is the high energy intensity of the in vitro meat production cycle. The bioreactors in which it is produced require a quantity of energy far more significant than that necessary for conventional meat, emitting even more greenhouse gases than livestock.

The #bioreactors in which #LabGrownMeat is produced require a quantity of #energy far superior to conventional #meat, emitting even more #GHGs than #Livestock #farming. Click To Tweet

While livestock emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas that does not remain in the atmosphere for a long time, in vitro meat produces a high amount of carbon dioxide, which persists in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. So, any potential advantage of this new technology in emissions into the environment is virtually nullified.

Another problem is pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses, that can be created during in vitro meat cultivation. Contamination by microorganisms is, in fact, a crucial point that is difficult to solve, especially with a future large-scale production. In this regard, antibiotics will have to be used, precisely those that animal husbandry with so much effort has dramatically reduced.

Moreover, to stimulate in vitro cell growth and create muscle bundles, growth factors such as sex hormones, banned in animal husbandry in Europe since 1981 because of their potential health risks, will have to be used. In fact, in this new biotechnology sector, there is still no limit or legislation to follow.

While #livestock emits #methane, which is indeed a powerful #GHG but remains in the atmosphere for a decade, #LabGrownMeat produces a high amount of #CO2, which persists in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Click To Tweet

These are just a few examples of the many contradictions concerning this new artificial meat, self-proclaimed savior of the world, and cell growth is still linked to bovine embryonic serum. It is then necessary to exploit animals and conflict with the good intentions of the vegan-animalist ideology.

If this were not enough, no method has yet been developed that guarantees that artificial meat has the same nutritional power as real meat in terms of content in fundamental micronutrients. E.g., vitamin B12 and heme iron, suggesting a dangerous loss from a nutritional point of view.

Fortunately, the transition from conventional to cellular-based meat seems unlikely soon due to the expensive investments it requires and the prohibitive price of the final product. The most optimistic sector projections assume price parity between the two types of meat by the early 2030s, while to be comparable in taste and texture, we will have to wait longer.

If the in vitro meat market takes hold, there will be a significant shift in employment. Farmers and veterinarians will be replaced by chemists and bioengineers and will be a vast and dramatic loss of jobs throughout the livestock and meat processing sector.

Never mind the #vegan marketing and propaganda. A world without #Livestock #farming would be a real #EnvironmentalTragedy. Click To Tweet

Among the major investors who have given great economic support to these realities, we find billionaires such as Bill Gates of Microsoft, Sergey Brin of Google, and Leonardo di Caprio‘s activist actor. It is a shame to waste so many financial resources to support these artifacts that do not benefit our health and the planet. On the contrary, it risks worsening the situation.

Investors should understand that livestock farming plays a decisive role in agroecological practices that protect ecosystems, contributing to a natural balance, like fertilizing lands to preserve the landscapes, biodiversity, and animal and plant communities.

Whatever people who have never seen or known animals or the countryside say, a world without farms would be a real environmental tragedy.

The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.