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Studies find that lab-grown meat is worse for the environment than actual meat

A new article from researchers at The University of California, Davis (UC DAVIS) has found that the environmental impact from lab-grown meat is very likely to be higher than

 real, authentic meat. 

It’s no secret that the mass production of meat is damaging to our environment. Meat production accounts for 57% of the greenhouse gas emissions of the entire food production industry. However, scientists and researchers are suspecting that lab-grown meat may be up to 25 times worse for the environment. 

The process to make lab-grown meat is very tedious. It starts with cells. These cells, which can come from a fertilized egg, a special bank of stored cells, or tissue taken from a living animal, are mixed with a broth rich in nutrients which allows cells to multiply and divide. With chemical additives, the resulting muscle fibers mimic conventional meat. But, how does this process negatively impact our environment so much? 

The answer is simple. Industrialization. As producers become more familiar with the process of creating lab-grown meat, the demand for the product will increase. Subsequently requiring that these companies build more factories to supply their consumers needs. And we all know that with factories, comes carbon emissions and air pollution. 

“Our findings suggest that cultured meat is not inherently better for the environment than conventional beef. It’s not a panacea,” said corresponding author Edward Spang, an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology. “It’s possible we could reduce its environmental impact in the future, but it will require significant technical advancement to simultaneously increase the performance and decrease the cost of the cell culture media.”

According to Derrick Risner, lead author and doctoral graduate from UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology, even if the experiment with lab-based meat doesn’t produce a burger that is more environmentally friendly, it will nevertheless provide important scientific insights.


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