Artificiality hard to swallow

Enthusiasts say the world’s first laboratory-grown beef burger will combat world hunger and reduce climate change.

Well, it won’t do that at R3.3 million a pop. While the price will come down over time, there will be a long way to go before the test-tube burger breaks a few other barriers too.

One of the tasting volunteers, author Josh Schonwald, described it as being “more cake than steak”. The pricey burger was apparently not very palatable. Devoid of fat, it also lacked juiciness.

Production of real beef requires vast amounts of water and grain. Livestock cultivation reportedly contributes 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and uses 30% of the world’s ice-free land. Meat produced in the laboratory will be more environmentally friendly. According to Bloomberg, the process uses 60% less energy, resulting in up to 95% lower greenhouse gas emissions and 98% lower land use compared with conventional production in Europe.

Wonderful, if it could be produced on an economic scale it might be able to sustain a larger global population. But prejudice against this level or artificiality will be hard to swallow.


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