Synthetic Meat Is A Ridiculous Delusion Offering No Environmental Benefit

Ivalue/CC BY 2.0
A nice fake meat dish...yummm.

Here we go. Yet another Guy In White Lab Coat is reported to be working on a way to make synthetic meat. In this latest example, as with all the others I've read about, he's starting with little glass petri dishes of the sort freshman microbiology students use in lab. According to this Reuters coverage the culture media is a broth of " sugars, amino acids, lipids, minerals and all other nutrients they need to grow in the right way."

I wonder if fake meat researchers and their financial backers have considered where amino acid feed stocks would come should the manufacturing process be scaled up to feed the world? Such amino acids could be extracted from plants (as opposed to feeding plants directly to livestock) or synthesized from fossil fuel inputs with catalysts and distillation towers and carbon purifying filters. Or --this would be incredibly dumb but can't be ruled out -- they would source the aminos from animal byproduct lines: fish guts; livestock unfit for human consumption; road kill; etc. (Note: collecting plant materials and extracting and purifying plant aminos would take significant energy and water inputs for purification and drying and refrigeration and thus call for extensive capital expenditures.)

Amino acid and mineral supplement supply chains would have to be FDA and USDA inspected and approved. Thank you for taking my order, Waiter: I'll have mine from medium-well filtered amino groups produced in a continuous reactor chain with government oversight.

Sugars too were mentioned as a growth media additive. Sugar is not cheap. In case they hadn't noticed, sugar from corn and beets is being used on large scale for corn-based ethanol. There is only so much high quality farm land upon which to raise sugar crops. Add yet another demand stream and the price is sure to rise.

What's the market?
Do fake meat researchers figure that cattle and sheep and pigs are going to die from climate change, making their product a top choice for dietary animal protein? Or, are they thinking vegetarians and PETA members will be fine with eating something that is sure to taste at least as crappy - to make a comparison with existing products -- as fake crab and fake lobster do?

How will the animal rights people be convinced that no animal derived flavoring agents are present?

The mind races....
Do they envision something cod-like? Burger maybe? In which case, they are going to have to add some animal fat or it will taste no better than a veggie burger. What would be the point?

The product could be dyed red, canned, and sold to survivalist supply houses or for MRE's, via some defense contractor with a huge mission contract with DOD.

The firm that sells Spam won't take this lying down! Of this I am certain. They'll hire a K Street lobbyist to get the House and Senate to unanimously pass a measure banning the sale to DOD 'for our boys to eat.'

Again, what's the marketing plan? Maybe there isn't one.

Tags: Diet

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