Lab-grown meat would ‘cut emissions and save energy’

Meat grown using tissue engineering techniques, so-called ‘cultured meat’, would generate up to 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally produced meat, according to a new study.

The analysis, carried out by scientists from Oxford University and the University of Amsterdam, also estimates that cultured meat would require 7-45% less energy to produce than the same volume of pork, sheep or beef. It would require more energy to produce than poultry but only a fraction of the land area and water needed to rear chickens.

‘What our study found was that the environmental impacts of cultured meat could be substantially lower than those of meat produced in the conventional way,’ said Hanna Tuomisto of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, who led the research. ‘Cultured meat could potentially be produced with up to 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions, 45% less energy, 99% lower land use, and 96% lower water use than conventional meat.’

The researchers based their calculations on a process, using Cyanobacteria hydrolysate as a nutrient and energy source for growing muscle cells, that is being developed by co-author Dr Joost Teixeira de Mattos at the University of Amsterdam. At the moment this sort of tissue engineering technology is confined to the laboratory, but the researchers estimated what the various costs would be for producing 1000kg of cultured meat using a scaled-up version of the technology compared to the costs associated with livestock reared conventionally.

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