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Are You Brave Enough to Try Lab Meat?

Can lab-grown meat still be called meat?belchonock/Depositphotos

What is lab meat?

Lab meat is meat grown from animal cells in vitro (in a cellular culture). Cellular farming. Animal stem cells are grown in a lab without a complete animal or organism.

Produced how?

Most artificial meat uses animal adult stem cells. Under local anaesthesia, a cow’s muscle is sampled for beef. Enzymes digest the muscle to release stem cells.

Stem cells are immersed in salts, vitamins, sugars, proteins, and growth factors in a bioreactor. Oxygen-rich, temperature-controlled conditions boost cell growth. Stem cells differentiate into muscle fibres using scaffolding. In weeks, the lab meat can be processed or cooked.

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Probably. In many ways, there is a lower chance of contamination from harmful bacteria such as E Coli because there is no digestive tract to contaminate the lab meat during processing. However, the growth vats would be the perfect breeding ground for bacteria as well as muscle cells.

Lab meat requires hormones to stimulate growth; these hormones may also be present in farmed meats but at different levels.

a piece of beef on a wooden tray, is this the end of the beef farm.

How nutritious is lab meat?

It’s high in complete protein and fat because it’s grown from muscle cells. Adjusting fat levels and fatty acid levels in the final product can tweak the nutritional content, but these are inputs.

Omega-3s from fish or flaxseed oil can replace saturated fats. Artificial meats can also have vitamin B12 added.

Sounds good, right?

It’s assumed that vitamins and nutrients are single compounds that perform a specific function, so artificial supplements are identical to natural ones. Each vitamin can take different forms, all of which have subtly different effects on the metabolism.

Enzymes, minerals, lipids, protein, and other nutrients help the body digest and use natural vitamins. Lab-grown meats with added vitamins are made with synthetic vitamins.

When animals live in nature and eat a species-appropriate diet, they eat a wide variety of foods.

In the case of a pasture-fed cow, the animal could be eating up to 60 different plants, all of which contain a myriad of saccharides, polyphenols, carotenoids, bioflavonoids and antioxidants that change subtly over the plant’s life cycle and according to the soil it grows in, creating a natural feedback loop of nutrient recycling using active soil biology as bacterial, fungal and invertebrate action on decaying plant material helps to recycle nutrients.

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In nature, the delicate balance of the terroir (or specific land) adds an unfathomable complexity to the fine balance of micronutrients that an animal will receive when it derives its nutrition from that land. This complexity, including genetic information transferred from the soil microbiology, is received by our bodies on the consumption of this lab meat, we become intimately connected to the land and its health. The understanding of this subject is in its infancy but th

Where do lab meat’s inputs come from?

Even when grown in a lab, cells need ‘food’ to grow. In a living animal, this is supplied by digestion and transported via the bloodstream. In lab meat, this food must be added artificially to the soup that the lab meat grows in, called the ‘culture medium’. Amino acids, vitamins, glucose, inorganic salts, and growth factors are needed in the cell culture medium. Growth factors are cell culture media’s most complex and expensive component. Cell culture media composition depends on cell line and species, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Future Fields is genetically modifying an organism to produce growth factors by inserting the genetic code for a specific protein into an unidentified cell line.

Where do these nutrients and growth factors come from?

lab grown meat culture medium which is used to grow the meat.

Simple foodstuffs like sugars and protein building blocks must also be produced at scale by agriculture to encourage growth.

For lab meat to be grown, nutrients must be processed from conventionally grown mono-crop systems. These systems are not natural and if non-organic (which ironically requires animal waste) will be chemically dependent crops.

Simply put lab-grown meat requires more soya.

Chemical production alone will harm the environment.

What is Soya?

Soya comes from soybeans, which are small beans that can be made into different foods like tofu, soya milk, and soy-based products. Many people enjoy soya because it’s a great source of protein and can be a part of a balanced diet.

Possible Concerns: The Dangers of Soya

However, for some people, soy can cause problems. Some individuals may have allergies to soy, which means that eating it could make them feel sick or cause skin rashes. Additionally, soy contains compounds called phytoestrogens, which can mimic the effects of the hormone estrogen in our bodies. While this is usually not a problem, too much estrogen-like activity in our bodies could lead to imbalances.

Effects on Growth

One of the concerns about soy is that it may interfere with our growth. In particular, some studies suggest that the high levels of phytoestrogens in soy could affect the development of young children and their hormone levels. That’s why it’s important for kids to speak to their parents or a doctor if they have any concerns about consuming soya products.

But won’t emissions drop?

Lynch and Pierrehumbert (2019) compare cultured meat and beef GHG emissions. Cultured meat emissions are almost entirely CO2 from energy generation, and CO2 stays in the atmosphere longer than methane or nitrous oxide.

The study has shed new light on the potential climate impacts of cultured meat and cattle production, challenging the notion that cultured meat is inherently superior in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The researchers explored the complex dynamics of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions associated with these two food production systems, using a rigorous approach to evaluate their long-term warming effects.

GHG emissions emitted from a power station

Unveiling the Climate Impacts

This study looked at the effects of making meat in a lab (called cultured meat) and raising cows for meat. They wanted to see which one had a bigger impact on the climate. The researchers found that cows produce three types of gases that can make the Earth warmer, while cultured meat mostly produces just one. At first, when people eat a lot of meat, cultured meat seemed better for the environment.

But over a long time, the difference became smaller. When people ate less meat, the warming effect of raising cows went down, but the warming effect of cultured meat stayed the same. It’s important to remember that the impact of these foods on the climate depends on things like how the energy is made and how the food is produced. So, there are many things to consider when thinking about which is better for the environment.

Long-term, cultured lab meat may cause more climate damage than a beef farm.

And wastewater?

As cells grow in this growth medium, their metabolism produces waste products such as ammonia compounds that need to be removed. What happens in a lab? Because the nutrient cycle is closed, waste must be chemically processed or disposed of and becomes a pollutant.

What is Ammonia?

Have you ever wondered what happens to the water we use at home or in industries after we’re done with it? This used water, called wastewater, contains various substances that can be harmful to the environment and even to our health. One of these substances is ammonia, which can pose dangers when present in large amounts in wastewater. Let’s explore the dangers of wastewater loaded with ammonia and why it’s important to treat it properly.

What is Ammonia? Ammonia is a chemical compound that contains nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. It is commonly found in cleaning products, fertilizers, and even in our own bodies. While ammonia in small amounts is not harmful, high levels of it can be toxic to plants, animals, and humans.

Ammonia in Wastewater from Lab Meat Farms: Ammonia can enter wastewater from various sources such as household cleaning products, industrial processes, and agricultural runoff. When wastewater contains high concentrations of ammonia, it can have several negative effects.

soya bean harvest on a farm

Environmental Impact: When wastewater loaded with ammonia is discharged into rivers, lakes, or oceans, it can harm aquatic life. Ammonia acts as a pollutant and can disrupt the balance of ecosystems. It can be toxic to fish, invertebrates, and other organisms that rely on clean water for their survival. High ammonia levels in water can lead to oxygen depletion, making it difficult for aquatic animals to breathe.

Human Health Concerns: Direct exposure to wastewater containing high levels of ammonia can also pose risks to human health. Ammonia has a strong, pungent odour and can irritate our eyes, nose, throat, and skin. In severe cases, it can cause respiratory problems and burns. Additionally, if wastewater contaminated with ammonia is used for drinking water or crops, it can pose a significant health risk if ingested.

To protect the environment and human health, it is crucial to treat wastewater before it is released back into the environment or reused. Wastewater treatment plants employ various processes to remove harmful substances, including ammonia. These treatments help break down and remove the ammonia from the water, making it safer for the environment and human use.

Prevention and Awareness: Preventing high ammonia levels in wastewater starts with the responsible use of cleaning products, proper disposal of chemicals, and implementing effective agricultural practices to reduce runoff, which is difficult to control in lab meat facilities. It is important for individuals, industries, and governments to be aware of the potential dangers of ammonia in wastewater and take steps to minimize its presence and treat it effectively.

Wastewater loaded with ammonia (such as the one coming from lab meat facilities) can have detrimental effects on the environment and human health. Understanding the risks associated with high ammonia levels in wastewater and implementing proper treatment methods are essential for protecting our ecosystems and ensuring clean, safe water sources for all.

waste water filled with ammonia and other pollutants.

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Is lab meat good?

We don’t support lab meat for many reasons.

A regenerative ecological system must have natural interaction.

  • The production of the facilities is resource- and energy-intensive.
  • Input materials will come from the worst types of chemically dependent, plant-based agriculture.

Lab-grown meats lack the nutritional complexity of naturally raised animals.

  • Lab meat will be generic like factory-farmed meats, with no breed or terroir.
  • Since manufacturing requires skilled labour, farmers in developing countries can no longer make a living by keeping animals on land, giving multinationals control over food security.

What’s good?

On Earth, we have pasture and arable fields that would benefit from rotation into pasture. Let’s stop factory farming & lab meat, of which this is just another form, and keep animals properly, in natural systems that can restore and repair the environment and be truly regenerative.

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