Lab-grown meat could cut emissions by 96%

3rd September 2018

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Producing meat grown in a lab could cut agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 96% while using a fraction of the land, according to analysis by the Adam Smith Institute.

In a new report, the think tank highlights how the prospect of affordable lab-grown meat is closer than ever, with the cost of creating a burger falling from £215,000 to just £8 in the past five years.

As well as reducing emissions, the report argues that cultured meat could solve a looming antibiotic resistance crisis, and cut the 60% of biodiversity loss attributed to intensive farming practices.

Moreover, lab-grown meat resolves all the ethical issues involved in the rearing and slaughter of animals, while in the UK, the extra land could be used to help solve the country’s housing crisis.

“Cultured meats are a game-changer,” Adam Smith Institute president, Madsen Pirie, said. “For 12,000 years humans have reared animals for meat – in future they will not need to.

“It will give the world access to a low-cost, high-protein diet, and the UK could become a world-leader in this multi-billion-pound new industry.”

The report highlights how demand for meat has boomed as GDP has risen across the world, with annual consumption in East Asia increasing from 8.7kg per person to 37.7kg in 30 years.

Just one person can be fed from a hectare of land dedicated to cattle, compared to 19 from a hectare of rice, with the report estimating that lab-grown meat could cut emissions by 79-96% while using 99% less land.

In addition, it is thought that millions of lives could be saved as a result of a lack of antibiotics used in lab-grown meat, removing the risk of ever-rising resistance.

Report co-author, Jamie Hollywood, said the government should encourage emerging technologies that seek to provide a mass benefit to society by removing barriers to their development and introduction.

“Many innovations which have been impeded by inefficient and short-sighted legislation and state procedure could alleviate problems such as starvation, malnourishment, and climate change,” he added.

Image credit: iStock


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