Cultured meat: grow your own in foodtech development
The planet’s population is rising and with it, the number of people living in food insecurity.
Lab grown meat (also known as cultured meat) could be an answer to feeding the 9% of humans who have to go without sufficient food, as well as the additional 2 billion people expected to be born by 2050. But with advanced foodtech, the lab could be skipped altogether.
Foodtech’s lab grown ‘cultured’ meat
Cultured meat is meat which has been grown from cells extracted from animals. It is not vegetarian, but cultured meat is a way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from the animal agriculture industry and could make food more available.
One device which is being developed to grow cultured meat from the kitchen counter, is the Carnerie, which looks more like a coffee machine of the modern age than an abattoir.
It is hoped that within two decades, the technology will be available for meat eaters to grow their own meat from this device, from home. The consumer will be able to order cell capsules from farms and grow meat, like one would brew kombucha.
If homegrown meat becomes mainstream, this will:
- Put an end to excessive meat packaging
- Decrease meat transportation emissions
- Free up a lot of land used in farming
- Save the food and water consumed by animals in farms, to be used by humans.
Declining levels of meat consumption
Following the pandemic, one in five people in the UK have reduced their meat consumption.
This could be due to many people watching documentaries on lazy lockdown weekends, or re-evaluating their health and lifestyle choices in the face of a crisis. It could also be due to the relationship between pandemics and the consumption of meat.
COVID-19 came from a meat market in Wuhan and the Ebola virus was spread, in part, due to the “hunting, butchering, and processing meat from infected animals”, such as bats and monkeys.
The 1918 Spanish Flu was spread from a farm in Kansas to Europe as soldiers left the United States to fight in The First World War. The virus killed up to 40 million people (only eight million soldiers died in combat).
As the world gets back to normal, fears of another pandemic may popularise meat-free diets and spur the foodtech grow-your-own-meat revolution.
Ireland could create template for global food sustainability
Leveraging innovation could cultivate new agricultural breakthroughs, making Ireland the most responsible and sustainable food producer on Earth, according to a renowned local luminary.
Economist and author David McWilliams has insisted that Ireland can become a pivotal carbon-neutral, resource-efficient and sustainable food producer – possibly the most influential on the planet.
He does acknowledge, however, that there are considerable obstacles on the country’s trailblazing journey to complete energy-efficient and sustainable food production.
McWilliams also claims that the widely-held belief within the EU that reducing food production thus reduces carbon emissions does not tally.
“For the European Union to get an aggregate reduction in carbon emissions,” said McWilliams at the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference. “It would seem to me much more logical to favour those countries that have had an evolutionary, ecological or environmental gift, in order to actually produce more, not less, because your input-output ratio is so much lower than it is either in the parched Mediterranean or in the frozen tundra of the North.”
Reflecting on the situation in the US, McWilliams said its agriculture output had tripled between 1948 and 2015, with exponential gains in efficiency. Surprisingly, agriculture only contributes to 7.5% of total US greenhouse gases, far below the 30% attributed to cars.
“I think American culture is changing, at least when you see it from the outside,” said McWilliams said of President Biden’s approach. “He's saying, ‘There's no point being wealthy if the wealth is only in the hands of a small minority. The wealth has to trickle down to everybody else.’”
McWilliams concluded that for Irish agriculture to modernise and grow, it should use one of Ireland’s leading sectors – technology – as a frame of reference. It currently generates over $25 billion in exports.