Cultured lab meat may make climate change worse


Growing meat in the laboratory may do more damage to the climate in the long run than meat from cattle, say scientists.

Researchers are looking for alternatives to traditional meat because farming animals is helping to drive up global temperatures.

However, meat grown in the lab may make matters worse in some circumstances.

Researchers say it depends on how the energy to make the lab meat is produced.

Why are scientists trying to grow meat in the lab?

There’s increasing concern about the impact of meat consumption on the planet. Around a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving up temperatures are estimated to have come from agriculture.

Beef production is considered the worst offender with cattle emitting methane and nitrous oxide from their manures, but also from their digestive processes.

There are also additional gases from fertiliser application to land, from the conversion of land for pasture or feed production.

Because of these impacts on the climate and because of a range of other concerns about issues such as welfare and sustainability, scientists have in recent years sought to develop meat that can be grown from animal cells in factories or laboratories.

One perceived advantage would be much lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane.

How have these meat growing efforts fared?

Back in 2013 a Dutch team of scientists produced what they claimed was the world’s first burger grown in a lab.

Since then, there’s been a lot of hype and noise but some real progress as well.

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