Culture 3 min read

Study Claims Lab-Grown Meat Could Be Worse For The Environment

Lab-grown meat has been hailed as the future of meat consumption, largely due to its potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, a new study shows that it may, in fact, be worse for the environment.

Lab grown meat may not be the  environmental savior  we thought it might. ¦ Pexels

Lab grown meat may not be the environmental savior we thought it might. ¦ Pexels

According to a new study, lab-grown meat may make climate change worse. Despite the hype and excitement about the potential benefits of the process, particularly in relation to factory farming, not everyone is convinced.

Beef Production and Climate Change

Scientists began growing meats in response to the increasing climate change concerns. In fact, about a quarter of the greenhouse gases driving up the planet’s temperature come from the agricultural sector. Within this sector, beef production is the primary culprit.

Aside from the methane and nitrous oxide from cattle’s manure and digestive processes, using fertilizers to convert land to pasture for the animals to graze on also affects the planet negatively.

As a result, scientist not only questioned the sustainability of cattle farming, but they also developed a possible solution. By growing meat from animal cells in laboratories, they can lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane.

Lab-Grown Meat To The Rescue

In 2013, a team of Dutch scientist created the world’s first burger from lab-grown meat. The hype was massive, and everyone was excited about the leap for science.

The process was relatively simple. The scientist collected stem cells from animal tissues and managed to differentiate them into fibers. Then, they collected the fibers and grew them into sufficient muscle masses to be harvested and sold as meat.

Several other companies have replicated and improved the process since it was first developed in 2013. An example is Aleph Farms with its lab-grown steak.

Be that as it may, none has mass-produced cultured meat for the general public yet. As it stands, this may be a good thing.

How Cultured Lab Meat Affects The Planet

While previous studies only considered the carbon dioxide equivalent of various emissions from cattle, researchers from Oxford Martin school did something different.

They decided to compare the long-term implications of cultured meat with meat from cattle.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, revealed that the manufacture of lab meat could result in global warming over a long period. Here is why.

Lab emissions are almost entirely made up of carbon dioxide. Why is this a problem?

While methane from animal manure has a more significant warming impact, it only remains in the atmosphere for about 12 years. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, can persist and accumulate for millennia.

Lead author of the study, Dr. John Lynch wrote;

The climate impacts of cultured meat production will depend on what level of sustainable energy generation can be achieved, as well as the efficiency of future culture processes.”

If the lab-grown meat is quite energy intensive to produce then they could end up being worse for the climate than cows are,” he concluded.

This could be a significant blow for the rise of lab-grown meat, but knowing the implications of naturally harvested meat, it may be the lesser of the two evils.

Read More: Lab-grown Meat Movements Surge in Response to Climate Change

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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