Lab-grown meat would 'cut emissions and save energy'  

Posted by Big Gav in

Physorg has a article on the reduced environmental impact of artifical meat - Lab-grown meat would 'cut emissions and save energy'.

The analysis, carried out by scientists from Oxford University and the University of Amsterdam, also estimates that cultured meat would require 7-45% less energy to produce than the same volume of pork, sheep or beef. It would require more energy to produce than poultry but only a fraction of the land area and water needed to rear chickens.

A report of the team’s research is published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

‘What our study found was that the environmental impacts of cultured meat could be substantially lower than those of meat produced in the conventional way,’ said Hanna Tuomisto of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, who led the research. ‘Cultured meat could potentially be produced with up to 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions, 45% less energy, 99% lower land use, and 96% lower water use than conventional meat.’

The researchers based their calculations on a process, using Cyanobacteria hydrolysate as a nutrient and energy source for growing muscle cells, that is being developed by co-author Dr Joost Teixeira de Mattos at the University of Amsterdam. At the moment this sort of tissue engineering technology is confined to the laboratory, but the researchers estimated what the various costs would be for producing 1000kg of cultured meat using a scaled-up version of the technology compared to the costs associated with livestock reared conventionally.

In comparison to conventionally-produced European meat, the team estimate cultured meat would involve approximately 7-45% lower energy use, 78-96% lower greenhouse gas emissions, 99% lower land use, and 82-96% lower water use depending on the type of meat.

‘We are not saying that we could, or would necessarily want to, replace conventional meat with its cultured counterpart right now,’ said Ms Tuomisto, ‘however, our research shows that cultured meat could be part of the solution to feeding the world’s growing population and at the same time cutting emissions and saving both energy and water. Simply put, cultured meat is, potentially, a much more efficient and environmentally-friendly way of putting meat on the table.’


Are these labs going to reproduce themselves, gather their input stock, distribute nutrients in their feeding areas, transport themselves to water sources and survive without buildings, electricity or metals?

No huh.

A bison does all of those things and it does them for free. It's belly contains a sophisticated bioreactor capable of ingesting low grade feedstocks and turning them into high grade sources of proteins, fats and minerals.

In combination with the global champions of carbon sequestration, the prairie dogs, bison once produced one of the worlds most efficient soil building ecosystems in the Great Plains of North America. At one point topsoils were thirty feet deep in some areas.

Now the depleted remnants of those soils are used for corn growing, that feeds cows in feedlots.

The "lab grown" meats will never compete on an EROI basis with evolution.

Nice one SP :-)

Pangolin - I guess we'll see as time passes - it seems like a worthwhile area of research to me.

Feel free to try some bison farming in the meantime :-)

Bovines for broad acres.

There close cousins have not done much good for the shallow fragile soils of Oz. I suspect geology may also be a significant factor.
The US (and Europe) had a "good" ice age and some nicely eroding mountain chains to top up the nutrient supply.

No such luck in Oz...

You'd think those genetic engineers could come up with some sort of snap-off meat that could be removed without killing the animal. Like a lizards tail. We could call them....... buffalo wings.

Crucial to the soil development cycle of the Great Plains of North America is the hard freeze period each winter where soils freeze solid to a depth of several feet.

The freeze leaves taproots deep in the soil where they are converted to humous slowly by bacteria and fungi. In areas where there isn't a hard freeze clay pans form and soil humus is relatively quickly degraded unless replaced each year. This is why biochar or terra preta soils are so significant to maintaing soil fertility in temperate climates. The soil carbon stays in the ground where otherwise it wouldn't.

So if you want to boost the carbon in our Aussie soils you're going to have to add it yourself.

soil carbon is one thing... but lack of P was and remains probably the most limiting nutrient in Oz.

"converted to humous slowly by bacteria and fungi."
I guess it depends what you are calling humus and what you mean by "slow".
My understanding was that humic material consists of the large low energy yielding "skeletons" of degraded structural molecules... the bacteria and fungi having done there work (often very "quickly").

Of course the molecules of the bacteria and fungus in turn enter this cycle.

Biochar (I thought) acts by helping hold some of the limiting micronutrients (metals, P) in the soil ... not just because it is a form of carbon.

SP_ The most comprehensive information listing on biochar is at

To simplify biochar is not a simple process of adding carbon to soil. Simply adding graphite or coal dust to soil provides no similar benefits to biochar. It appears the structure of biomass cooked in in anaerobic conditions at certain ranges of temperature forms housing for microbial flora.

It is these flora which seem to do all the work. As repeated trials have shown adding biochar to soil provides a much longer lasting and broader range of changes than simply adding mineral or nitrate fertilizers.

Anyway, go to the link for more or preferably, do some pot tests yourself. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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