Cultured Meat - Is it a Delicious Meal or a Real World Hunger Games???
The “clean (cultured) meat” initiative is drawing the eye of consumers more and more every day. This growing buzz among the public has rendered unanswered hard-line questions by the more than two dozen “cultured meat” companies currently racing to a plated product finish line. Much like the beginning of the tech boom in the early 90’s there have been startups popping up every month, here in the US and abroad. Forbes contributor Davide Banis laid out seven predictions for the 2019 outlook on the “cultured meat” industry.
All the predictions for the movement focus on the perceived notion of positive consumership, government acceptance and completed regulatory oversight. In his first prediction, Banis drew on comments made by National Humane Society Vice-President, Paul Shapiro who alleges sales of “cultured meat” will be a reality by the end of 2019. That’s a huge shift from the outlook of 2018 that saw several startups close up shop due to lack of investors and huge overhead from research and development scientists and engineers. Shapiro penned the 2018 book titled, “Cultured Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World.” He is also the CEO and co-founder of The Better Meat Co. which works with institutional food industry companies on blending plant-based proteins with meat-based. The continued growth of just three publicly recognized companies Memphis Meats, The Good Food Institute, and Just, are the result of huge capital injections from Tyson, Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Atomico, New Crop Capital, SOSV, Fifty Years, KBW Ventures, Inevitable Ventures, Suzy Welch, Kyle Vogt and Kimbal Musk, just to name a few. Tyson already invested huge capital into backing plant-based meat company Beyond Meat, maker of the Beyond Burger. Cargill’s president of growth ventures for Cargill Protein released a public statement regarding recent capital investments into Memphis Meats saying, “Memphis Meats has the potential to provide our customers and consumers with expanded protein choices and is aligned with our mission to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.”
The second prediction purports first markets to sell “cultured meat” will likely be in Asia. But the FDA and the USDA have already positioned the United States at the forefront of this so-called cellular agriculture revolution so sales in the U.S. could very well begin in 2020. Israel’s meat industry investment in startups such as SuperMeat and Aleph Farms (who just recently produced a cellular-based steak the size of a credit card) could mean Israel may be a Mecca for the “cultured meat” world. Given U.S. and Israel foreign policy and trade relations, the floodgate for these companies could open and begin to impact the cattle industry very soon.
Regulations otherwise designed to protect incumbent livestock industries by stifling the “cultured meat” initiative could kill the industry before it’s even on the open market. There will be countries where there are just too many legal restrictions for “cultured meat” companies to operate.
Fact is, there are so many unknown variables at play with the “cultured meat” movement. No scientific data exists to reflect the long-term effects or health risks associated with genetic alteration of living beef, fish and poultry cells once they undergo the process of repeated duplication. Not to mention the unknown result in new diseases that may be passed on to humans or if ingesting said products will increase or decrease the risk of cancer. No one knows if eating the same “immortal” strain of DNA for generations is safe for humanity. Before they clone and duplicate cells for consumption worldwide, should there be a test and monitor of subjects for several generations?