As if we didn't have enough reason to promote growing our own food 

Friday, November 11, 2011 10:35:00 PM


From http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45257771/ns/technology_and_science-science/

Like all muscle, these lab-grown strips also need to be exercised so they can grow and strengthen rather than waste away. To do this, Post exploits the muscles' natural tendency to contract and stretches them between Velcro tabs in the Petri dish to provide resistance and help them build up strength.

Supporters of the idea of human-made meat, such as Stellan Welin, a bioethicist at Linkoping University in Sweden, say this is no less appealing than mass-producing livestock in factory farms where growth hormones and antibiotics are commonly used to boost yields and profits.

And conventional meat production is also notoriously inefficient. For every 15 grams (half-ounce) of edible meat, you need to feed the animals around 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of vegetable protein, an increasingly unsustainable equation.

All this means finding new ways of producing meat is essential if we are to feed the enormous and ever-growing demand for it across the world, Welin told Reuters in an interview.

"Of course you could do it by being vegetarian or eating less meat," he said. "But the trends don't seem to be going that way. With cultured meat we can be more conservative — people can still eat meat, but without causing so much damage."

According to the World Health Organization, annual meat production is projected to increase from 218 million metric tons in 1997-1999 to 376 million tons by 2030, and demand from a growing world population is seen rising further beyond that.

"Current livestock meat production is just not sustainable," says Post. "Not from an ecological point of view, and neither from a volume point of view. Right now we are using more than 50 percent of all our agricultural land for livestock.

"It's simple maths. We have to come up with alternatives."

According to a 2006 report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, industrialized agriculture contributes on a "massive scale" to climate change, air pollution, land degradation, energy use, deforestation and biodiversity decline.

The report, titled "Livestock's Long Shadow," said the meat industry contributes about 18 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, and this proportion is expected to grow as consumers in fast-developing countries such as China and India eat more meat.

Hanna Tuomisto, who conducted a study into the relative environmental impacts of various types of meat, including lamb, pork, beef and cultured meat, said the lab-grown stuff has by far the least impact on the environment.

Her analysis, published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal earlier this year, found that growing our favorite meats in-vitro would use 35 to 60 percent less energy, emit 80 to 95 percent less greenhouse gas and use around 98 percent less land than conventionally produced animal meat.

"We are not saying that we could, or would necessarily want to, replace conventional meat with its cultured counterpart right now," Tuomisto, who led the research at Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, said in a telephone interview.

But she said cultured meat "could be part of the solution to feeding the world's growing population and at the same time cutting emissions and saving both energy and water."

Comments are closed on this post.