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Synthetic food: the study that could dispel the false myth

Lab-grown 'meat' would pollute 25 times more than real meat

13, May 2023

Interest in animal cell-based meat (ACBM) or cultured meat as a viable environmentally conscious replacement for livestock production has been increasing, however a life cycle assessment for the current production methods of ACBM has not been conducted. Currently, ACBM products are being produced at a small scale and at an economic loss, however ACBM companies are intending to industrialize and scale-up production. This study assesses the potential environmental impact of near term ACBM production. Updated findings from recent technoeconomic assessments (TEAs) of ACBM and a life cycle assessment of Essential 8TM were utilized to perform a life cycle assessment of near-term ACBM production. A scenario analysis was conducted utilizing the metabolic requirements examined in the TEAs of ACBM and a purification factor from the Essential 8TM life cycle assessment was utilized to account for growth medium component processing. The results indicate that the environmental impact of near-term ACBM production is likely to be orders of magnitude higher than median beef production if a highly refined growth medium is utilized for ACBM production.

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