Meat grown artificially in a laboratory could offer a viable solution for environmentalists who want to cut their carbon footprint but cannot face going vegetarian, research suggests.
9:25AM BST 21 Jun 2011
(The Telegraph) An Oxford-led study found that cultured tissue could reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from food production by as much as 96 per cent.
The process would use up to 45 per cent less energy than conventional meat, only one per cent of the land and a tiny fraction of the water required, according to a study to be published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Meat production is responsible for about 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than the airline industry and the world’s cars combined – and takes up almost a third of land outside of icebound areas.
With hundreds of millions more people in countries such as China now able to afford meat as part of their daily diet, the world’s resources have come under increasing pressure.
Meat production is being blamed for much of the deforestation in areas such as the Amazon rainforest, water shortages and increasing competition for land.
One alternative source of protein and energy could be the cultivation of a bacterium called cyanobacteria hydrolysate.
Hanna Tuomisto, of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, who led an Anglo-Dutch feasibility study, calculated that the first commercial lab-grown meat could be available within five years.
"We are not saying that we could, or would necessarily want to, replace conventional meat with its cultured counterpart right now,” she told The Guardian.
“However, our research shows that cultured meat could be part of the solution to feeding the world's growing population and at the same time cutting emissions and saving both energy and water.
“Simply put, cultured meat is, potentially, a much more efficient and environmentally friendly way of putting meat on the table.”