Imagine you had a machine in your kitchen, which could simply produce real meat with the press of a button. This is the vision scientists want to turn into reality. It would mean a future where animals no longer have to be slaughtered for their meat. A future where they can roam free, while meat is being produced in a laboratory. Lab-grown meat would not be any less environmentally friendly then plant-based food.
There are a lot of problems associated with traditional meat production, particularly animal cruelty and environmental concerns. There are currently around 80 start-ups doing research in the field of cultured meat and competing to bring a product to the market. The idea of growing meat in a laboratory has existed for over 100 years, and there are reasons why it still doesn’t exist. This is because the production of cultured meat brings about enormous challenges.
In our paper, we try to answer the following two questions:
- Is cultured meat really more environmentally friendly than traditional meat and
- what is the current state of consumer acceptance of cultured meat?
These questions are virtually impossible to answer at the time of writing, since there is a lack of data regarding cultured meat production systems.
We decided that we had to limit our scope of research, as we quickly realized that this field is too large for us to fully comprehend.
Following, the history, processes, and problems of traditional and in-vitro meat are described.
We chose this field of research due to our personal interest in the subject matter and it aligns with our current world views on climate change and the current state of our environment. Two of the authors of this thesis are vegetarians, due to their concerns about the environment and animal cruelty.
In our paper, we have identified significant issues about the traditional meat industry for which we urgently need alternatives, including, but not limeted to deforestation, water usage, animal cruelty, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
To fight these problems, we assessed cultured meat as an alternative option, which looked very promising at first. During our research, we realised that most of the technologies used to cultivate meat are still in need of in-depth development. As we dug deeper and our comprehension of the subject grew, we realised that a lot of claims made by start-ups seem too good to be true.
The production of cultured meat poses a lot of problems, which we do not have solutions for and the vast majority of steps in the production process need breakthrough developments before they can be integrated into large-scale production.
According to the survey we conducted, the market is more than ready for in-vitro meat, as long as the flavour and cost are comparable to those of traditional meat. Even a part of the vegetarian community would consider eating meat if it was cruelty-free and more environmentally friendly.
The experiment went well, up to the part where stem cells were needed, since they are not yet available for purchase in Switzerland and importing them would have cost way too much for this IDPA-thesis, as they require special shipping methods.
This subject was a fascinating look into the vastly complex field of cellular biology. However, the complexity of the field also proved to be a challenge. We had a lot of difficulty reaching the goals we set for ourselves. The experiment, for example, failed because we could not get our hands on the cells required to properly execute. Nonetheless, we were able to contribute to the existing literature on culturing meat, highlighting the problems of available comparisons of conventional and in-vitro meat.
Nadja wants to study biotechnology now.
Luca still wants to eat meat.
Ilan is indifferent.
Quelle: IDPA 2022 "In-Vitro Meat" von N. Russenberger, L. Burkhard und I. Pfammatter