Biology

Could a lab-grown burger save the world?

We’re facing a global food crisis, and livestock farming is inefficient and environmentally damaging. For example:

  • More than one third of the world’s grain harvest is used to feed livestock
  • A gallon of petrol is required to produce a pound of grain-fed beef
  • The total cattle population for the world is approximately 1.3 billion, occupying some 24% of the land of the planet
  • Cattle raising has also been criticized for its role in the destruction of tropical forests. Hundreds of thousands of acres of tropical forests in Brazil, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras, to name just a few countries, have been leveled to create pasture for cattle. Since most of the forest is cleared by burning, the extension of cattle pasture also creates carbon dioxide, and, according to some environmentalists, contributes significantly to global warming.
    β€” Richard Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p.220

    But Dr. Mark Post thinks he might be able to solve these problems by growing beef in a laboratory. The following graph shows a comparison between conventionally farmed beef, compared to Dr Post’s lab grown alternative.

    beef

    On paper, it seems quiet impressive – but would you like to eat a burger grown in a lab? And would it taste the same as a standard burger?…