Ashton Kutcher Invests in Lab-Grown Meat Company
In celebrity news, Ashton Kutcher has invested in cultured meat company MeaTech 3D. MeaTech is an Israeli company, which aims to provide a more sustainable 'meat' solution, by developing an industrial cultured meat production process, using 3D printing. Leonardo DiCaprio also recently made food news headlines for investing in two companies creating lab-grown meat; Aleph Farms (which uses a soya-based scaffold to grow beef, and already grew a cultivated steak in a lab in 2018) and Mosa Meat (a European food technology company that made the first cultivated hamburger in 2013).
What is Lab-Grown Meat?
Lab-grown meat, also known as cultured meat, is created using tissue engineering – based on techniques that were originally designed for regenerative medicine. Industry proponents say it tastes just like the real thing. It uses animal cells that are grown in a culture in a lab.
Most cellular agriculture relies on stem cells. Although the cells can be used almost indefinitely (depending on the type of stem cells and the techniques being used), the cells do originally have to come from an animal. So, the original cells are often taken from a biopsy of a living animal. Some techniques for making lab-grown meat use a bovine-based serum, although newer technology is moving away from this.
Kinder to animals than farmed meat
- 95% less land used
- 78% less water used
- No hormones, antibiotics, or steroids used that are common in large scale animal agriculture
- Less GHG emissions than traditional animal agriculture
- Can reduce transportation and supply lines by 'making' meat in big cities
- Reduces risk of future pandemics
- Lack of research showing the safety of eating lab-grown meat
- Still contains animal fat & cholesterol that is harmful to human health
- The environmental impact of large-scale cultured meat may be more destructive than
traditional farming methods
- Requires hi-tech solutions that would increase the power of food production of the global
north over the global south
Viable Solution or Franken-meats?
Cultured meats raise a lot of ethical and health questions. On the one hand, we need to come up with as many practical solutions as possible to help with the
climate crisis. As cultured meat produces far fewer GHGs this could be a big win. But, this is an untested technology. The environmental benefits of cultured meat are currently all based on small-scale labs. The actual environmental impact of lab-grown meats at a large scale is unknown and may prove to be yet another environmental disaster.
In parallel to our climate crisis, we also have a global health crisis of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. The roots of which are consistently linked with the consumption of animal products. These products will still cause all the same harm to our health. What's your take on the lab-grown meats? Would you eat them or do you think they're Franken-meats? Let us know in the comment section down below.
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