2 Reasons not to care about Lab Grown Meat

28 Feb

1.  Corn, wheat, rice and soybeans already provide enough protein to feed the world population

2.  4% of the world’s land surface is devoted to growing these crops compared to 30% for grazing and raising the crops   for livestock feed.  ”

In 2009 at its  World Food Summit, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation recognized that agricultural output will need to increase by 70% by 2050 in order to feed the world’s population, which is expected to
exceed 9 billion in this timeframe.

Demand for meat, diary products and eggs is set to rise with particular demands coming from China.  There will also be a corresponding demand for feed and in particular proteins.   At the moment there is also a rising demand for vegetable oils which means that the residue left over from oil production i.e. if we look at Soybeans, which is called “soybean meal” or soybean oil cake” can be  used in animal feed.

Four main crops oil palm, soybeans, sunflower seed and rapeseed are produced by a small number of developing countries, however as their own livestock sectors have developed they must now also import feed to meet demand.

Bangladesh which has a population of approx 142 million depends mainly on India to import soybean meal needed to produce feed for poultry.  They are rolling out this year, their third seed crushing plant which will reduce dependence on imported meal.  This extension will meet 44% of the demand for oilcake of the country and 7.82% of the demand for soybean oil.  Just as well they planned to do this because:-

JUST TODAY (Reuters)

India’s rapeseed output is expected to fall 8.5 percent to 6.3 million tonnes in 2012 on lower acreage of the oilseed crop, a trade body survey showed on Monday.  (mainly due to unfavourable weather at the beginning of the planting season.)

Reuters reported on Feb. 1 that the county could see a drop in the rapeseed crop, meaning that vegetable oil imports by the world’s top buyer could rise by about a half a million tonnes in the import year ending Oct. 31.

Patrick Browne, Professor of Biochemistry at Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Stanford University is putting together meat-substitutes made from PLANT materials.

His points at 1. & 2 above should steer agriculture towards growing more plant protein crops and also science to develop meat-substitutes from them.  Especially here in Ireland where we are somewhat obsessed with exporting meat and dairy products to China.  Yes, of course it is good for our economy but what about the bigger picture.  What if feed costs rise too high?  What if the price of meat goes so high? Poorer people cannot afford to eat?  (this is already happening) What if a deadly virus kills all the animals – yes, I know it is a doomsday scenario, but still we would be rightly in trouble then.  We should also be growing and using plant proteins for human consumption not just for animal feed.  Surely that makes more sense than trying to grow meat in a petri dish?

It makes sense that the protein that we will need to feed the world will come from plants.   We will have to change our meat consumption from an every day thing to a once a week treat.  Our bodies simply do not need to eat so much animal protein.  In the future could we be looking at “Meat-full”  Sundays  because every other day has become Meat-Free?   I think so.


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