Lab-grown meat is set to be available in supermarkets within the next 5-10 years according to Professor Johannes le Coutre from UNSW School of Chemical Engineering. The push for cleaner meat production and humane meat options has become a focal point of the food industry.
Early last month, a Madison Wisconsin firm dedicated to growing lab-raised seafood raking in 1.6 million dollars in funding. There is so much interest in alternative food-sources that “cultivated meat,” AKA lab-grown, is a project that scientists have been working to perfect for years.
Billionaire Bill Gates made headlines a few months ago when he promoted that anyone can “get used” to it. Plenty of politicians from AOC to other Green New Deal supporters emphasize the dangers of methane clouds caused by farming livestock, and the benefits of “going vegan,” but those investing in lab-grown meat overlook simple facts that make lab meat an issue for anyone who wishes to enjoy an old-fashioned American burger.
The costs are still 30% higher than regular meat. The price and costs of beef may be rising due to pandemic restrictions, but it is still more affordable than the lab-grown alternative.
Many Americans are already struggling to balance their meals. How can lab-grown meats and seafood enter an already devastated market when inflation is increasing and the health benefits are still fully unknown?
Factory farming is also a major factor of this equation. Most of our meat comes from factory farms which produce as much meat as possible while keeping costs low.
These farms are what have led many people to ward of meat and look for a lab-grown alternative due to animal abuse issues. Keeping costs low in a high-demand market is key. Instead of focusing on expensive lab-grown alternatives, why not work to revolutionize factory farming to better benefit consumers and the animals involved in the process? Or offer tax breaks and grants to family farms which are the healthiest alternative?
Most factory farm animals have to be regularly treated with antibiotics to avoid sickness from their small dirty confines. They are often injected with hormones to make them grow bigger so they produce more meat. Methane clouds form over waste pits. This highly explosive gas is incredibly dangerous in large quantities and that is one of the main concerns addressed within the framework of The green new Deal, but Green New Deal supporters focus solely on these elements of farming as if there are no other alternatives, as if there is no pre-industrial era history of clean farming. Many of them wish to abolish modern meat raising practices by introducing lab-gown meat as a “healthier” more human alternative.
Yet, we have more options than just choosing one food over another. As H.L. Mencken said, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” The idea that humans can just reject eating natural meat as they have for thousands of years is being presented as if it’s a simple clear answer to a complex problem. But it is most likely wrong.
In regards to the waste issue, methane is a cleaner source of energy than coal power, which is used throughout the Midwest. Utilizing that power to warm homes and fuel gas powered ovens is one way that factory farming can be helpful for the environment and benefit those who do not wish to risk the side-effects of eating food grown in a lab. If factory farms were paid for this energy source, more profits can be gained to balance the costs of offering each animal more space for cleaner, healthier, more humane living conditions for the animals.
Offering tax breaks and grants to family farms, which often raise humane, free-range livestock, will also aid an already working market in reducing prices for consumers to better serve local communities. This is much less costly than investing in experimental meat which will need to be tested, packaged, and shipped across the country once it is properly grown.
Local farmers serve specific cities and do not often ship long-distances. My local meat farmer has a cabin on their property with a freezer that serves as a store. I simply drive by on my way home from work, pay, and take my meat. This cuts down on gas, emissions, and packaging needs that factory farms contribute to mass amounts of pollution, and lab meats most likely will add to.
Getting lab-grown meat on supermarket shelves may be a goal for certain chemical engineers, but the benefits do not seem to outweigh the costs. It’s a futuristic science that intrigues investors, but for me and mine, nothing can compete with the all-American burger.