Livestock industry leaders have urged Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthrophist Bill Gates to undertake more research into livestock production after he called for policies requiring people in rich countries to eat “100 percent synthetic beef”.
Mr Gates, who has invested in range of ‘synthetic meat’ startups including Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Memphis Meats and Hampton Creek Foods, made the comments in an interview promoting his new book ‘How to Avoid a Climate Disaster’.
In the interview with MIT Technology Review, Mr Gates said he did not think the poorest 80 countries in the world would be eating synthetic beef in future.
“I do think all rich countries should move to 100 percent synthetic beef,” he said.
“You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they’re going to make it taste even better over time.
“Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand.”
He described the problem of reducing methane emissions as “very difficult”, stating that even compounds which reduce methane emissions weren’t enough.
Mr Gates does not claim to be vegetarian and is reported to still enjoy the occasional cheeseburger.
However he has been strong public and financial supporter of plant and cellular based alternatives to meat for several years, stating that farmed animals take a “big toll” on the environment.
Mr Gates said in the MIT interview he wasn’t sure if ‘lab grown’ meat like Memphis Meats will ever be economical, but said plant-based protein companies Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have a quality and cost road map that makes them “totally competitive”.
In his new book Mr Gates says using regulation to force a shift to synthetic meat is only one of a wide range of government policies that will ultimately be needed to avoid a climate disaster.
After initial market hype, plant based ‘fake meat’ brands have run into headwinds in recent times including stock rating downgrades, price discounting to lift sales, and law suits over food safety standards.
In response to his push for the developed world to replace beef with synthetic meat, which appears to have generated largely supportive media coverage around the world, a range of voices have responded on social media by urging Mr Gates to spend more time researching the livestock sector.
Quote from Bill Gates on eating beef/synthetic beef: “…use regulation to totally shift the demand.”https://t.co/vJPHB6MoBF
No thanks and seems like a bad idea on many levels. pic.twitter.com/vPbZF9DAYO
— Sara Place (@drsplace) February 16, 2021
Never take my advice about computer programming or becoming a billionaire.
Never take @BillGates advice on the food you and your family should eat.
— Ken D Berry MD (@KenDBerryMD) February 16, 2021
BILL GATES, big investor in synthetic meat & in the militant organizations lobbying for its implementation (eg. Good Food Institute) & media hailing its virtues (eg. Guardian), wants to use REGULATION to move ALL rich countries to … 100% synthetic beef. https://t.co/KMxLRZgq3T pic.twitter.com/o5rValYwnn
— Frédéric Leroy (@fleroy1974) February 16, 2021
Bill Gates Fact Check: EPA estimates cattle’s GHG emissions at 2% of US total, 10-50 times lower than other beef producing nations. Efforts to reduce transportation and electricity emissions would have a far greater positive impact.
— NCBA’s Beltway Beef (@BeltwayBeef) February 16, 2021
Q: Who is by far the single largest shareholder of Canada National Rail, which makes enormous profits from shipping oil by rail?
A: Bill Gates.
It’s ironic that he talks about reducing fossil fuel use but benefits so much from the shipment of the product he publicly condemns.
— Frank Mitloehner (@GHGGuru) February 17, 2021