I read a recent report from the Adam Smith Institute, a think tank in the Uk, that opined if we did not switch to lab-grown meat the world would face a massive food crisis. It seemed to me, many of the claims were questionable — perhaps even frivolous. 

Here are some of the claims along with my comments:

  • Lab-grown meat (LGM) would needs less land for farming. If lab-grown meat became the norm,  99 per cent less land could be used thus releasing millions of acres of pasture land for other uses.  The source of this figure is not given.  
  • LGM would give the world access to a low cost, high protein diet, the cost of a lab-grown burger pegged at about $10.50.  Undoubtedly, it will continue to get cheaper but is still out of reach for people in many countries. 
  • LGM could help solve the housing crisis by freeing up land currently used by farmers!   I don’t know where this came from.  I can[t imagine how removing some grazing cattle from marginal pastures could free up land someplace for a person to build a house?!?!
  • Beef takes a hectare (2.47 acres) to feed one person whereas nineteen people are fed per hectare of rice produced.   They did not specify the origin of these figures , nor did they indicate how many people could be fed on a hectare of LGM’s.  
  • As much as 96 per cent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by switching to LGM- taking a further step towards tackling climate change.  It sounds good but in reality most of the gas emissions are associated with mega-farms - CAFO’s - and not from pastured, grass-fed beef.
  • The looming antibiotic resistance crisis could be prevented by cultured meats which do not use antibiotics.   Antibiotic resistance started way before livestock were routinely fed antibiotics.  Fleming  discovered penicillin in 1928—he predicted bacteria would develop resistance if the antibiotic was not used at high enough levels or for too short a time. There was an outbreak of penicillin resistant staph in London in 1947. It spread to Australia in 1953.  In 1955 it crossed to the US, affecting over 5000 mothers and childern in a birthing hospital in Seattle.  The new broad- spectrum antibiotic - aureomycin - was first fed to a tiny group of chickens in 1948, which practice gradually escalated into today’s wide-spread feedin Ending the feeding of antibiotics to livestock may alleviate, but will not eliminate, the problem of antibiotic resistance. 
Lab groen burger

All these claims predict great environmental f damage from the rearing and slaughter of animals.f but do not address the environmental impact from lab-grown meat — surely the is some.  I wonder what is the downside of LGM’s?

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