Science & Technology
Is lab-grown meat environmentally friendly ?
February 19, 2019 | 12 comments
Could we all end up eating lab-grown meat ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Alexbrn
A new study has indicated that growing meat in a laboratory may actually make global warming worse.
The world's first lab-grown burger, which was developed by a team in the Netherlands and cost a whopping $325,000 to produce, was seen as a major milestone in the development of a new and sustainable food source that could help feed our planet's ever-growing population.
But while the potential benefits are many, some scientists have called in to question the idea that growing meat in a lab rather than rearing cattle will ultimately benefit the environment.
Large numbers of cows contribute to global warming thanks to the amount of methane they produce, however it takes energy to produce lab-grown meat too and this can, depending on how it is generated, release a lot of carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere.
"Per ton emitted, methane has a much larger warming impact than carbon dioxide," said study co-author Prof Raymond Pierrehumbert. "However, it only remains in the atmosphere for about twelve years, whereas carbon dioxide persists and accumulates for millennia."
"This means methane's impact on long-term warming is not cumulative and is impacted greatly if emissions increase or decrease over time."
The researchers determined that over a long period of time, growing meat in a lab may in fact contribute more to global warming than rearing large numbers of cows.
According to lead author Dr John Lynch, it all comes down to how the energy is produced.
"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," he said.
"If the lab-grown meat is quite energy intensive to produce then they could end up being worse for the climate than cows are."
Source: BBC News
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