Laboratory grown meat, or “clean meat”, can be made from stem cells and harvested via a biopsy from living livestock. Environmentalists believe this type of meat, which is usually grown over a few weeks, could be the answer when it comes to successfully reducing our carbon emissions. An estimated 14.5% of the worlds emissions are currently caused by the meat industry. Both the maintaining and eating of livestock are massive contributors to global warming – producing more emissions than the entire transport sector. One of the biggest problems with farming livestock are that it produces high quantities of methane. The land clearing and fertilisers used are also a contributing factor, as it tends to release a large amount of carbon.
But could the manufacturing of clean meat be the answer to this ongoing problem? Experts believe that it could. According to one study, if lab grown meat can be produced in an effective and economically viable way it could lower emissions from this industry by a staggering 96%. Animal rights charity Peta are just one organisation who have been investing in research. “We believe it’s the first important step toward realising the dream of one day putting environmentally sound, humanely produced real meat into the hands and mouths of the people who insist on eating animal flesh,” the charity said in a statement.
Now, it may seem like the clean meat industry has a lot of progress to make before it becomes available to the mass market. However, according to Josh Tetrick, CEO of clean meat manufacturer “JUST”, it could be made available sooner than anticipated. The company have recently announced that they have used the technique to create chicken nuggets, sausages and foie gras and that these products could be sold in the US and Asia “before the end of 2018”.
One of the biggest problems the industry is still facing is the public perceptions. For some time it’s been feared that clean meat simply won’t take off as a viable alternative. The public view that traditional farming is livestock is superior to lab grown meat is something that the industry will need to overcome in order to make it successful. Although the mood does seem to be changing. A recent study has shown than around a third of Americans would be willing to replace their traditional farmed meat with clean meat on a regular basis.
Josh Tetrick added that “Gnarly problems, communication issues, regulatory issues,” all need to be looked at before products go to market. This is a stance shared with other companies, including Mosa Meat who were responsible for creating the first lab made hamburger. Another problem at the moment is the price of production. But as the techniques are becoming more streamlined, it’s hoped that companies can bring down the price of mass production and bring their products to market in the near future.