Lab-Grown Meat Up To 25 Times Worse For The Environment Than Beef

Growing burgers and steaks from cultured cells may be seen as the future of the meat industry, but a new analysis indicates that the mass-production of lab-grown meat using current technologies could be considerably worse for the environment than real beef. At present, animal cell-based meat (ACBM) is only produced at a very small scale and at an economic loss, although the as yet un-peer-reviewed study suggests that scaling up the process could release between four and 25 times more emissions than the global beef industry.

According to the study authors, “[billions of] investment dollars have specifically been allocated to [the ACBM] sector with the thesis that this product will be more environmentally friendly than beef.” However, while it’s true that lab-grown meat eliminates the land, water, and antibiotic requirements of cattle raising, the researchers explain that much of the interest in cultured meat has been driven by inaccurate analyses of carbon emissions.

The problem, they say, is that many of these reports have modeled the climate impact of ACBM using technologies that either don’t exist or are unlikely to work. For instance, one often-cited study estimated the carbon emissions of ACBM production using cyanobacteria hydrolysate as a feedstock for the cells. However, the researchers of this latest analysis explain that “this is not a technology or feedstock that is currently used for animal cell proliferation, nor is it one that is currently near feasibility.”

Lab-Grown Meat Up To 25 Times Worse For The Environment Than Beef | IFLScience