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This pre-print has received a decent amount of media attention (e.g. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2372229-lab-grown-meat-could-be-25-times-worse-for-the-climate-than-beef/) on its result that cultivated meat is 25x worse than cows with regards to the climate.

Haven't had a chance to read in detail but they just calculate with current methods. Whilst this might be not useful as a projection, I do find this is a useful way to express just how far off some parts of the problem are.

Any thoughts from people closer to the problem than me?




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I'm probably further from the problem than you, but it is a kind of silly projection in a different way, because it also has embedded in it a reason why there is no chance that current methods will be scaled up -- they are too expensive. The far higher carbon cost implies a far larger amount of energy and other resources are used also.

Liz Specht at the Good Food Institute wrote this response in the NewScientist:

*"Scientists developing cultivated meat agree that R&D-scale methods won’t work for large-scale production. The non-peer-reviewed environmental impact study you reported on assumed commercial production of cultivated meat would rely on pharmaceutical-grade media to feed the cells – which food manufacturers won’t need to use (13 May, p 11).

Its findings deviate from other published research and don’t reflect current or anticipated practices. Recent peer-reviewed data demonstrates that food-grade ingredients can support animal cell growth, and producers are actively developing the supply chain for these ingredients.

A peer-reviewed study in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, based on input from many cultivated meat companies and media suppliers, showed that producing cultivated meat at scale using renewable energy could lower climate emissions by 92 per cent and use 90 per cent less land than conventional beef.

Just as we wouldn’t assess the environmental impact of solar panels based on 1980s prototype production methods, we shouldn’t assess cultivated meat’s potential impact using R&D-scale processes. To deliver on cultivated meat’s potential to help satisfy growing demand for meat, reduce climate impacts and create space for more sustainable farming, governments must develop sustainable, large-scale production."*

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This article hasn't been peer-reviewed, so don't read into the results too much. The CO2e/kg estimates are 10-100x higher than previous studies. And while the author doesn't claim a conflict of interest, all the authors are at UC Davis in the same college as the Clear Center, a beef-industry funded advocacy organization. I don't think academic work should be dismissed outright for an apparent unstated conflict of interest, but it does warrant extra scrutiny. I'd be much less skeptical if this came out of another university.

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