Will the largest meat company in the world be vegan? It may well be, according to Nick Lin-Hi, Professor of Economics and Ethics at the University of Vechta, Germany.
Speaking at a EuroTier event examining cultured meat, he continued that our current methods of food production are unsustainable and that a growing population, rising living standards and ever more demand for meat will only make matters worse.
Lab-grown meat would help to contribute to addressing these issues while, at the same time, also address the disconnect between consumers claiming that they want higher standards but refusing to reward producers for adhering to these higher standards.
He noted that, currently, food production accounts for 30% of greenhouse gases, with livestock production accounting for half of this and that, without change, this will worsen.
Small changes and encouragement of food producers to produce more sustainably would appear not to be working. By way of example, he cited two German supermarket chains that introduced solidarity bonuses for producers, rewarding changed production methods. The products marketed under this scheme, however, failed to sell due to their higher costs.
Consumers, it would seem, will not be the engines of change, but change, of some form, is, nevertheless, still needed to address the growing demand for meat without further damaging the planet.
Lab-grown meat may be the solution to ensuring that meat production remains sustainable. Today’s producers of traditional meat must be aware of the potential for this sector to radically alter the industry.
Smart or not?
It may be easy to be skeptical, but cultured meat would appear to address the sustainability issues associated with current production methods, and refusing to acknowledge this may be a risky path to follow.
Lin-Hi pointed to the example of the original mobile phones versus today’s smart phones. The modern smartphone has all but brought to an end the market for the mobile phones. Lin-Hi noted that it was not a traditional telephone company that introduced smartphones and captured the market, rather it was an outsider.
While laboratory meat may still seem to be science fiction to many, who would now want to go back to a traditional mobile phone, Lin-Hi asked, noting that it would be better to be part of a new industry than be leapfrogged by a newcomer.