World's first lab-grown burger to be cooked and eaten
Comment of the Day

August 05 2013

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

World's first lab-grown burger to be cooked and eaten

This article by Pallab Ghosh for the BBC may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section
In a statement, animal welfare campaigners People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said: "[Lab-grown meat] will spell the end of lorries full of cows and chickens, abattoirs and factory farming. It will reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and make the food supply safer."

But food writer Sybil Kapoor said she felt "uneasy": "The further you go from a normal, natural diet the more potential risks people can run in terms of health and other issues," she said.

The latest United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report on the future of agriculture indicates that most of the predicted growth in demand for meat from China and Brazil has already happened and many Indians are wedded to their largely vegetarian diets for cultural and culinary reasons.

So lab grown meat might turn out to be a technological solution in search of a problem.

Eoin Treacy's view While lab grown meat sounds like something only astronauts might be forced to ingest, the potential for protein to be grown-to-order represents an important stepping stone for those more concerned with water and land use, carbon and methane emissions, desertification and soil erosion than taste or the whole foods movement.

Demand growth for beef, lamb, pork, shrimp and fish remains on a strong upward trajectory. It strikes me as naïve to think that Chinese demand for protein has already been satiated since consumption tends to trend higher in line with disposable income. Additional demand growth can also be expected to develop from other high population countries not least in Africa.

Provided it can become cost competitive, there is also the potential that lab grown meat may encounter less of a cultural barrier in Asia where a long tradition of flavouring tofu to take on the taste of whatever it is cooked with already exists

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