Is lab grown meat the future of the industry, or simply an expensive boondoggle that wealthy investors like Bill Gates and Richard Branson will eventually have to bite the bullet on?
According to major players in this “cultured meat” industry, lab grown meats can replace having to actually slaughter and process these foods for human consumption, preventing animal deaths and giving rise to a new era in the food industry.
Many tech and alternative media publications seem infatuated with the idea of this new class of food product (which is often made from GMO yeast, unfortunately), but others worry about the health implications of this dangerously under-tested technology that reminds many of Monsanto and Bayer’s experiments with genetically engineered crops.
Already, cultured meats from companies like Memphis Meats, Hampton Creek (makers of the non-GMO vegan alternative product Just Mayo), and the Israeli startup ‘SuperMeat’ are being developed with an eye on changing the future of food.
And now, one Northern California company is preparing to offer lab-grown chicken nuggets, made from the feathers of the very animal this type of meat originally comes from in the first place.
American Company’s Lab Grown Chicken Nuggets Approved for the First Time
With big backers like Tyson Foods, Gates and others on board, lab grown meat on store shelves everywhere seems like an inevitability.
But the question is whether consumers will embrace this new technology, reject it outright, or perhaps something in between.
Thus far, lab grown beef has been the biggest new project among Gates and similar investors, with the Israel-based company Future Meat Technologies aiming to selling its first lab grown meat products by the end of the year at a whopping $365 dollars per pound (with hopes of slashing that cost to $4.50 a pound in two years).
The lab grown chicken industry has been waiting in the weeds, however, and according to a new article from ABC.Australia, lab grown chicken nuggets from the California-based company JUST could be on sale soon, if they can overcome regulatory hurdles.
The company’s CEO Josh Tetrick had the following to say in a Tweet announcing the new product.
According to JUST, production of meat and seafood will double to 1.2 trillion pounds by 2050, and conventional meat uses 80 percent of all antibiotics, plus more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars.
“Our planet cannot afford to supply the water, fuel, pesticides, and fertilizer that industrialized animal production requires. It can’t afford the polluted water or the biodiversity loss. It can’t afford the moral inconsistencies,” the JUST promotional video reads.
Now, the JUST company’s lab grown meat has finally been approved for the first time, in Singapore of all places, where its lab grown chicken bites will be sold at a restaurant some time in the near future according to a December 2020 report from Smithsonian Magazine.
In March 2020, rapper 2 Chainz sampled the controversial lab-grown meats along with the JUST Egg product made from mung beans.
In this Facebook video, Tetrick can be seen describing his future goals for the product, including making it so that it costs less than regular chicken.
Regenerative Agriculture: A More Natural Solution to Environmental Issues?
As the pending fake meat tsunami begins to form, whether or not it will actually be adopted by the mainstream market (and whether it will have misleading or vague labels like GMO foods) remains a mystery.
According to the Organic Consumers Association, however, there’s a completely natural solution to the environmental problems presented by meat consumption and chemical-intensive modern farming: regenerative agriculture.
Regenerative agriculture, when practiced correctly, utilizes animals and plants in a “closed loop” system that allows each agricultural component to work synergistically in a way that nourishes animals, plants and soil alike while maximizing yields without pesticides or GMOs.
“Industrial agriculture is one of the most unsustainable practices of modern civilization. The ‘bigger is better’ food system has reached a point where its real costs have become readily apparent,” International Director Ronnie Cummins says on the OCA’s website. “Like water running down an open drain, the earth’s natural resources are disappearing quickly, as industrialized farming drives air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, rising carbon emissions and the depletion, erosion and poisoning of soils.
“The long-term answer, however, lies in the transition to sustainable, regenerative, chemical-free farming practices, not in the creation of food manufacturing techniques that replace farms with chemistry labs, which is the “environmentally friendly” alternative envisioned by biotech startups and its chemists.”
Of course, such a system will not spare the lives of animals that will be used for food (and for working the soil as well), but it can have a dramatically positive impact on the environment while producing meat that is almost certainly healthier for people in the long run.
“Regenerative food and farming, coupled with 100% renewable energy, holds the potential, through qualitatively enhanced soil health and supercharged plant photosynthesis, to mitigate global warming, by drawing down several hundred billion tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil,” writes Cummins.
“But it gets better. The combined transition to regenerative agriculture and renewable energy actually has the potential to reverse global warming while simultaneously restoring the environment, improving the nutritional quality of our food and regenerating the economic vitality of small farmers, herders, and rural communities,” he adds.
For more information or to support the OCA’s mission, check out the full article titled ‘Vegans, Ranchers and Regenerators Unite: Why Fake Meat and Eliminating Livestock Are Really Bad Ideas.’
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This article was first written in December 2018 and updated in January 2021.