from the world's big
Lab-Grown Meat's Main Obstacle is Quickly Disappearing
It's possible to grow hamburger in a laboratory. Scientists have done it. It's actual meat. The problem is the process for creating meat is currently prohibitively expensive, although that may not be the case for long.
My colleague Natalie Shoemaker wrote a few days ago about research efforts that track the various defenses and rationalizations for eating meat. It's important to note that the piece is written from a strictly rational standpoint centered on the following facts:
1. The ways in which we produce meat these days is very inefficient.
2. Modern dietary science enables us to substitute meat's necessary nutrients with items like beans, nuts, tofu, etc. These foods are much easier to produce than meat.
3. The meat industry is awful for the environment.
So, rationally speaking, if all things were equal, it would be wise to forgo eating meat and supporting a massive industry that arguably does more harm than good. We don't need meat, so why not cut it out completely?
But all things are not equal. Meat tastes good. Meat is a cultural staple for many people. Food is family, life, and heritage. You can't just convince people to stop doing something they like to do, especially when it's so inexpensive to keep up the habit. Meat isn't going away anytime soon, no matter how much the anti-meat crowd wants it to.
It's from this perspective that scientists around the world are searching for alternatives. We've talked a bit on this site over the years about meat grown in laboratories. The Washington Post has a profile up today about one scientist — Mark Post of Maastricht University in the Netherlands — who has spent nearly a decade working on such a project:
"Two years ago, Post's team of researchers presented their first major discovery in the form of a five-ounce hamburger patty, which was created in a lab, but still was remarkably similar to ones sold on supermarket shelves. The reception was promising: The media was abuzz, and the BBC made several food critics try it, one of whom conceded, "This is meat to me; it's not falling apart."
The glaring obstacle for Post's achievement is the cost associated with reproducing it. As mentioned above, the price of industrialized meat is extremely low right now. Any effort to replace animal meat with lab meat will have to address this. Post thinks he's getting close, explaining to The Post's Roberto A. Ferdman that it won't be long until his team reaches its goal of "65 to 70 dollars per kilo."
"That would drop the five-ounce burger to below $10," writes Ferdman. And the price could fall even further in the future.
Take a look at Ferdman's full piece in The Post for more about Post, his work, and a prediction of whether the public would warm up to lab-grown meat. For now, the important take-away here is that the main obstacle to giving synthetic meat a chance to compete could soon disappear.
Photo credit: Alex011973 / Shutterstock
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.