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Meat the future – Ralph Sims

Posted in Reflections On Science on November 24th, 2016.

By mid-century, it’s estimated the world’s population will exceed 9 billion and they’ll need to be fed, writes Massey University’s Professor Ralph Sims.

An excerpt (read in full):

Unfortunately, methane emissions from the digestion processes of cattle, sheep and deer and nitrous oxide emissions from animal urine and fertilisers are proving challenging to reduce.

We may be able to continue to export animal products that we currently rely on, but perhaps only to niche markets as competition increases.

The world is moving towards vegetable proteins to meet growing demands – for example, soy milk has been on the supermarket shelves here for many years but new biochemical processes based on fermentation of products containing plant proteins have also now reached the market.

The analogy is how synthetic fibres produced from oil products (such as nylon) largely replaced natural fibres (cotton, wool) globally over recent decades.

Of even greater interest, perhaps, is the slow but growing trend towards producing synthetic meat.

Investment into bio-companies developing such products is growing fast.

Such “meat” can be grown cleanly and efficiently under factory conditions from just a few cells, and it is claimed “tower factories” in the future could achieve 70 times the land area density in terms of tonnes per hectare, compared with field crop production.

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