Agricolae International12/05/2023 18:21

Synthetic meat, California University: pollutes 25 times more than real meat, interest based on inaccurate analyzes of CO2 emissions: the STUDY and the REACTIONS


Synthetic meat to fight hunger in the world and protect the planet from pollution? It pollutes 25 times more than the traditional one. According to a study by the University of California published on 10 May and which AGRICOLAE reports at the foot of the page.

While EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, is starting the phase of assessing the food safety of cultured meat - reiterating however that this assessment has not been requested by any European country and that its placing on the continental market will be a decision policy, therefore of the EU Commission -, a new scientific study arrives from the USA that debunks synthetic food as a friend of the environment: the group of researchers from the University of California confirms that the impact on pollution is up to 25 times higher than to that of traditional meat.

The analysis indicates that mass production of lab-grown meat using current technologies could be significantly worse for the environment than real beef. At present, animal cell-based meat (ACBM) is only being produced on a very small scale and at an economic loss, although the as-yet-peer-reviewed study suggests that scaling up the process could release between four and 25 times more emissions compared to the global beef industry.

So the production, in addition to a very high energy cost, the use of important water resources, is currently uneconomical, all this despite the heavy investments in progress both in the USA and in Israel, the United Kingdom, Holland and Denmark.

But it is the question of the environmental impact that becomes crucial for understanding how in reality the economic interest in this production prevails over the ecological one. According to the authors of the study in fact, billions of dollars of investment have been specifically assigned to the sector with the thesis that this product will be more environmentally friendly than beef. However, while it's true that lab-grown meat eliminates the land, water and antibiotic needs of raising livestock, the researchers explain that much of the interest in cultured meat has been driven by inaccurate analyzes of carbon emissions.

Specifically, the abstract of the scientific analysis states that "The results indicate that the short-term environmental impact of ACBM production will likely be orders of magnitude higher than average beef production if a medium is used for ACBM production. of highly refined growth".

Current small-scale production of ACBM products is currently in Singapore however these products still use animal sera such as fetal bovine serum and are not widely available. Investments in this sector currently exceed 2 billion dollars, driven upwards by analysts who predict that by 2040 the meat market will occupy more than 60-70%.

But this scientific research underscores the critical point of bioreactor-grown meat production: the presence and removal of endotoxins in the growth process. For example, at an endotoxin concentration of just 1 ng/ml it reduced pregnancy success rates by 3 to 4 times during in vitro fertilization of human embryos. The method of endotoxin reduction or elimination is highly dependent on the properties of the substance being purified, but the use of these refinement methods contributes significantly to the economic and environmental costs associated with pharmaceuticals as they require both energy and resources.

Assuming continued use of highly refined growing media, the researchers estimate that each kilogram of ACBM produces 246 to 1,508 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions. Based on these figures, they calculate that the global warming potential of cultured meat is between four and 25 times greater than that of retail beef.

Much of this impact is driven by the fossil fuel requirement associated with the purification of growth medium components. According to the study authors, this is three to 17 times higher than the amount used to produce boneless beef.

Based on these calculations, the researchers conclude that “the short-term environmental impact of ACBM production is likely to be orders of magnitude higher than average beef production if a highly refined growth medium is used for ACBM production.



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