Cultured meat: Good or bad, promise or peril?


By Jonathan Knutson, Agweek (ND)

Feb 11, 2019


Across America, people both in and out of agriculture are hearing more about cell-based meat, aka "clean meat" and "fake meat," among other terms. Whether cell-based meat is a good thing or a bad thing — whether it holds promise or peril — depends on who you ask.


To Vítor Espírito Santo, associate director of cellular agriculture for JUST, a San Francisco-based food company that expects to begin selling lab-grown chicken within a year, cell-based meat involves "changing the food system" to benefit consumers and the environment.


To Gerald Stokka, North Dakota State University Extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist, cell-based meat unfairly denigrates beef cattle and threatens rural economies tied to traditionally raised beef.


To Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California-Davis Extension specialist in animal biotechnology and genomics, proponents of cell-based meat are "overhyping the environmental benefits" and providing an incomplete, misleading case for it.


And to Ginger Hultin, a registered dietitian and Seattle-based spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, cell-based meat offers promise — but also requires more research and data.


Despite the disagreements, there's consensus that cell-based meat still faces major challenges, particularly marketing and gearing up for large-scale production. Even proponents say cell-based meat won't be widely available for at least five years.


Supporters say


Advocates of cultured meat say it's beneficial and even necessary. Their arguments typically involve some combination of human health, the global environment and animal welfare.


Kristopher Gasteratos, founder and president of the Cellular Agriculture Society, referred questions about cellular ag to his organization's website, which identifies "three sets of concern" involving "the world's large supply of farmed animals."


According to the web site, the three are:


People: "People often get sick from animal products that are contaminated like meat and the growing population in the coming decades will require a higher demand for animal products than we can currently produce."


Animals: "Animals live in crowded, unnatural conditions which can be harmful for them, and they need to be killed in large quantities to supply the world with animal products."


World: "The world does not have enough environmental resources to produce for all of the farm animals; there isn't enough food, water, and land to provide to them sustainably."


'Nothing fake about it' ...


Skeptic: Data needed ... 


'Upcyclers' at work ...


Nutritionists say ... 


More, including video report [3:46 min.]