Leading cell-based meat expert speaks on recent study on its environmental impact

Beef Central, 06/06/2023

A FRESH study on the environmental impacts of lab-grown meat has led an internationally recognised expert on the future of cell-based protein, Professor Paul Wood, AO, to confirm the economics of producing lab-grown meat at scale “just won’t work” and will be less sustainable than traditional red meat production systems.

The new study from the University of California, Davis, argues the global warming potential of cell-based meat production could be up to 25 times greater than the average for retail beef.

“It might not be quite 25 times worse for the environment – but there are now multiple studies which have concluded that producing cell-based protein in a lab will be far more energy intensive when it’s produced at scale,” Prof Wood said.

“In addition to these concerns, there is a distinct lack of nutritional data from the cell-based protein industry – and that’s not good. There are a lot of big claims, but no data whatsoever to back them up,” he said.

The Monash University professor, who has led major research teams in Australia and the US, has just had his own peer-reviewed paper on the future of cell-based meat published in the world-renowned journal Animal Frontiers: Cellular agriculture: current gaps between facts and claims regarding cell-based meat.

The paper discusses the millions of dollars being invested in cellular agriculture, including cell-based meat and precision fermentation, and notes the significant technical, ethical, regulatory and commercial challenges around the products becoming commercially available – or viable.

“The labs and factories required to produce cell-based protein at scale will have enormous energy requirements and their annual running costs will be huge, so seeing them compete with traditional livestock production environmentally or with price parity is very unlikely,” Prof Wood said.

“They will also not match a fine steak, they are producing commodity products like burgers, meatballs and sausages. Put simply, it just won’t be sustainable in terms of energy consumption and the idea that it will transform the meat industry is ridiculous,” he said.

“And these are just some of the reasons investors and potential investors in the industry are walking away.”

Prof Wood is among several Australian scientists to have had their work published in a special edition of Animal Frontiers – the official journal of four professional animal science societies including the American Society of Animal Science, the Canadian Society of Animal Science, the European Federation of Animal Science, and the American Meat Science Association.

Dr Rod Polkinghorne, OAM, a leading innovator in the global red meat industry, and Professor Neil Mann, a human nutrition expert with more than 30 years of clinical trial expertise, have also had their work published in the journal.

The Animal Frontiers papers formed the basis for discussion at a Dublin-based event held last year, the International Summit on the Societal Role of Meat, and for a Sydney-based event in March, The Good Meat Summit, hosted by AMPC and MLA.

Source: MLA

  • More on the Dublin Declaration here, which Beef Central’s James Nason attended







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  1. mick alexander, 06/06/2023

    Thankyou to common sense to assess the economics of producing pseudo synthetic food products. Although this is only comparing economics and sustainability, one would have to agree that any pseudo pretend food being produced in a lab is as unhealthy and downright toxic as virtually every synthetic food in the world being produced today. I’ll bet no-one knows that our foods and poisons and gmo products are not food safety tested in Australia as we simply agree with manufacturers reports from USA. Its about time we as a nation ignored all the corrupt approvals of this stuff from USA and established our own independent testing services for any and all new food products entering the food chain. Its about time, we sacked the regulators and held a full review of the people who approve these potentially toxic products – that being Food Standards Australia who have nothing to do with testing new products for human safety – another corrupt mob. If it was up to them, the pseudo-food called lab grown would not even need to have safety testing because it meets their money making criteria. Our nations future depends on the people we are educating in our universities today, because scientists are forced to work for the mega-corporates if they want a career. The mega-corporates will not employ scientists with ethics, but people who value money and careers first – Our govt needs to support several billion dollars in food, chemicals and GMO testing costs to support Universities annually to be independent of mega-corporates. We need to give real scientists a chance and we need to get back to Australians looking after Australia.

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