Is lab-grown meat a threat to traditional livestock farming?
Debbie James, Farmers Weekly (UK)
12 November 2021
Put the word “lab” before any food and it is unlikely to sit well with British consumers, but the companies racing to be the first to sell lab-grown meat here are relying on environmental reasons to persuade people otherwise.
And if you could buy a product that looked and tasted the same as meat, was cheaper and had not involved the death of an animal, why wouldn’t you buy it?, they ask.
Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) president Glyn Roberts suggests there are very clear reasons why not – he says advocating an “industrial route” out of the climate crisis, where food is produced in factories, should not replace natural farming and food production.
“What’s key here is that beef and lamb is a natural protein and produced with the health of the environment and consumer in mind,” says Mr Roberts.
A report by global consultancy AT Kearney predicted that by 2040 most meat would not come from animals, suggesting that the large-scale livestock industry was viewed as an “unnecessary evil” by many, although there will be as many who disagree.
Currently, lab-grown meat is not available to buy anywhere in the world despite previous forecasts by developers that it would be for sale commercially by now, yet scientists backed by big businesses are jostling for future positioning in the market.
But is a food that has been grown in a lab one step too far for consumers, as has been seen in the argument around genetically modified (GM) foods?
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