Plenty of news about artificial meat this weekend will give anyone dealing with public acceptance of science something to think about.
Chemical & Engineering News reports that “Hanna L. Tuomisto, a graduate student at the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, and M. Joost Teixeira de Mattos, a microbial physiologist at the University of Amsterdam, used a modeling approach called life-cycle assessment to estimate the environmental impact of growing one type of cultured meat. Life-cycle assessment estimates the impact of every stage of a process, from raw materials to final disposal. The team examined a hypothetical scaled-up version of an existing laboratory process that uses cyanobacteria as a nutrient and energy source to produce meat resembling ground beef.”
Add to that “Researchers at Utrecht University have calculated that an initial ten stem cells could produce 50,000 tons of meat in two months” an “An Oxford University study found that this process would consume 35%-60% less energy, 98% less land and produce 80%-95% less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional ones” and we arrive at a rather uncomfortable ethical dilemma for anyone proposing a meat free organic future.
It does, however, highlight the way in which emerging technologies such as regenerative medicine may have wider effects than their currently proposed uses.