Just the facts folks: in a world of 7.8 billion people and growing, eating animals is an ongoing environmental and public-health catastrophe.
Livestock account for 14.5% of greenhouse gas production–more than all transportation combined. More than 25% of Earth’s available landmass and fresh water is used for raising livestock, razing virgin rainforest to grow feed, and diverting fresh water from drought-prone regions. Overcrowded pig and poultry farms are reservoirs for global pandemics; animals raised in them are pumped full of antibiotics, spurring the rise of drug-resistant superbugs. The U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates 90% of the world’s fish stocks are now fully exploited or dangerously overfished. Only one of every 25 calories a cow ingests becomes edible beef. And meat processors must pay disposal companies to haul away their inedible tonnage–hooves, beaks, fur, cartilage.
The business case for lab grown, ‘clean’ meat-without-animals is crystal clear: health, planet, karma. Must read: Why this cardiologist is betting that his lab-grown meat start-up can solve the world’s food crisis:
“If I continued as a cardiologist, maybe I would save 2,000 or 3,000 lives over the next 30 years,” Valeti says. “But if I focus on this, I have the potential to save billions of human lives and trillions of animal lives.”
…Cows and pigs aren’t getting any cheaper to raise or slaughter, but if lab meat follows the course of other early-stage technologies, it can continue to get more inexpensive for years to come. “It’s not crazy to think you might one day be able to brew meat at $2 per pound, $1 per pound,” says Bethencourt. “At that point, we can replace pretty much all industrial meat. In 20 years, I think people will look at growing and killing an animal as bizarre.”
…Already, so-called cellular agriculture produces everything from leather and vaccines to perfume and building materials. Within a few years, proponents say, it could eliminate organ donation, oil drilling, and logging. The possibilities are as broad as life itself.