T-bones & Test Tubes

The latest idea to reduce the impact of meat production, one of the biggest contributors to global climate change, was presented at the Norwegian Food Research Institute last week.

Scientists, government representatives and entrepreneurs attended the meeting of the ‘In Vitro Meat Consortium’ to find out more about the alleged ethical and environmental benefits of creating low-cost protein through cultured meat technology, in order to reduce dependency on industrial meat production and its environmental impacts. For the moment, it was established that the cost of cultured meat does not come anywhere near to that of unsubsidized chicken, say.

A paper presented at the meeting outlined how current meat consumption across the globe has reached an estimated 270m tons per year, growing annually at a rate of 4.7 million tons. Taking the breeding and production process into account, one single steak represents an ecological bomb.

The consumption of one kilo of meat produces a quantity of carbon dioxide equal to that of driving an SUV for three hours and leaving all the lights on at home. Insofar as it requires huge amounts of cereal to feed the animals, eating meat sets off a vicious circle of climate change and causes famine in other parts of the world.

The ‘In Vitro Meat Consortium’ suggests that, ‘One way to get out of this predicament is to exploit the potential of modern biotechnology and process technology to produce meat from normal muscle progenitor cells in bioreactors at an industrial scale’.

The meeting discussed the level of funding for research and testing, expected to be significantly high. This international alliance of scientists is now sourcing contributions from non-profit organizations and governments.



Victoria Blackshaw

[email protected]

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