Lab-Based Meat, What Is It?

 How many of you have seen “The Impossible Burger” on the menu at your local restaurant? What is it and is this lab-based meat safe to eat? Food Integrity Now wanted to find out. Friends of the Earth provided us with this article that we feel is important for you to know about so that you can choose wisely!

“The meat, eggs and dairy at the center of many plates, and the ways in which we typically produce them, are at the heart of some of the world’s greatest threats to the environment, public health, workers’ rights and animal welfare. Industrial produced animal products are amongst the most resource-intensive foods in our diet. They require massive water and energy inputs and generate significant greenhouse gas emissions, soil, air and water pollution. Industrial factory farming is carbon and resource intensive and costs the public billions of dollars in diet-related diseases. There are two primary approaches to addressing these problems — one, through healthier and more sustainable ways of producing animal products, such as organic and regenerative pasture-based methods, and two, reducing consumption of animal products by moving toward plant-based diets. These alternatives to factory farmed animal products have been steadily growing in popularity and are becoming more available to consumers…”

“Genetically engineered animal replacement
products are entering the market before they have
been proven to be safe, scalable and sustainable
alternatives to factory farmed animal products.”

“Essential unanswered questions remain about the long-term sustainability and safety of lab-based meat, or what the companies are calling “clean meat.” With this in vitro process, scientists grow artificial tissue by taking stem cells from animals and mass culturing them to grow tissue. The tissue is often cultured and grown in solutions with bovine serum,  mixes of hormones, growth factors, amino acids, vitamins and other food additives. Actual data on health and environmental impacts from these “lab meat” products, many of which are still in research and development phases, are hidden as confidential business information. Questions about the safety of the chemical mixtures used to culture the tissue, and about the energy use and sustainability footprint once production is to scale are speculative. One study in 2015 suggested that while lab meat might end up using fewer agricultural inputs and land than livestock, “large-scale cultivation of in vitro meat and other Genetically engineered animal replacement products are entering the market before they have been proven to be safe, scalable and sustainable alternatives to factory farmed animal products.


 Impossible Foods
Product: Impossible Burger
Status: Sold in restaurants
Investment: $396 million

Perfect Day
Product: Perfect Day Milk
Status: In development
Investment: $24.7 million

Clara Foods
Product: Clara Whites egg white substitute
Status: In development
Investment: $3.5 million

Product: gelatin replacement
Status: In development
Investment: $2.5 million

Companies developing genetically engineered replacement products are receiving significant capital from Silicon Valley investors. Top: Tubes containing growth medium used to culture cells. Bottom: Lab-based meat is grown using animal stem cells and cultured to grow tissue. Bioengineered products could represent a new phase of industrialization with inherently complex and challenging trade-offs.” The study also suggested that overall energy required to produce lab-based meat could end up being similar to or more than that used to produce animal-derived meats. Questions about animal welfare also remain uncertain, as the technology relies on fetal bovine serum, and how the inputs and final products will be assessed and regulated remains to be determined…”

Read Friends of the Earth’s full report here:

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