We don't really know. Cell ag companies haven't been releasing cost estimates lately. A lot of progress has been made, though. Most of the cost comes from the growth factors in the culture media, and Mosa Meat has been working on their own media formulation, plus a bunch of growth factors/media manufacturers have sprung up to supply the industry.
I'd like to note that much of the movement between '$1e6/kg in 2013 to to $100/kg in 2019' can be explained by labour costs and moving from bench-scale to larger-scale production (i.e. buying lab supplies in bulk).
Hello! Any updates on the ethics of poverty alleviation and animal welfare?
Ah, I was thinking primarily about low and middle-income countries for both of these.
I am a big fan of 'internalising the externalities' of meat production by making prices higher in developed countries, but I think this becomes a more ethically and strategically complex tactic when we're looking at places where people are already spending large proportions of their incomes on food, are in calorie deficits, etc.
You're probably right that improving biosecurity on factory farms might not make a big difference to antibiotic resistance and animal welfare. I'm thinking of improving biosecurity on smaller farms / closing smaller farms and encouraging larger farms because of their better biosecurity, which is already happening in China (haven't read this particular article but seems like an appropriate source).
Thank you for this post! I gave a strong upvote because this claim has been growing in strength in animal advocacy communities, and I have often thought that we need to examine it and make sure it actually makes sense, or it damages our credibility.
I realise now that I've actually been sceptical about the claim 'More than half of the antibiotics today are used for meat production'. This seems to be correct; this article says 73% of antimicrobials sold are used in animals (which I think cites an article by Van Boeckel et al 2017, in Science, but I can't access these articles). I also formerly believed this was predominantly a US issue, given the scale of poorly regulated factory farming there, but it's actually China that is the biggest consumer of veterinary microbials, in both absolute and relative terms.
This paper suggests 'user fees', i.e. taxes, on veterinary antimicrobials. This seems like it could have very bad consequences on food prices, supply, and thus nutrition in low and middle-income countries, which the paper says have more elastic demand. Do you have views on this?
Additionally, one potential negative consequence of this narrative is that improved farm biosecurity might be a strong solution to prevent antibiotic resistance from crossing over to humans. And this would probably entail making farms more technologically sophisticated, more intensive, and bigger, which tends to be much worse for animals.
Not sure if the distinction between antimicrobials and antibiotics makes a big difference. ↩︎
Thank you for writing this post! These are really good points. I think EA Singapore is looking to do more research on poverty and development in Southeast Asia, which can unlock more funding from funders who want to donate to a particular country or region. But I'm not the best person to speak about this.
I also thought of another point: if you're outside of the US and Western Europe, it's just harder to stay involved in EA as a human being. This feels obvious to me and I almost didn't post this comment because it seemed like 'duh', but I remembered that I've found simple, clear explanations of 'obvious' things helpful in the past, and at least they reminded me to consider them.
There are some good posts on the EA forum about value drift, but a bunch of the actions that people can take are less accessible for people outside of the US and Western Europe.
A Qualitative Analysis of Value Drift in EA
Concrete Ways to Reduce Risks of Value Drift and Lifestyle Drift
At some level, this is basically 'how to set up EA communities in other countries and the challenges in this'. But I think there is value in considering people's varying circumstances and the effort needed to be 'EA', even if the effect is just that some people feel a little more encouraged and validated.
Not sure about the exact geographies. It's a spectrum (e.g. Australia is somewhere in between) and there's variation within countries as well. ↩︎
Just to be clear, I think taking action and changing your mind frequently based on the best available evidence are good things. ↩︎
This seems obvious to me but I haven't seen ALLFED mention it; forgive me if you already considered this ages ago.
Is cellular/acellular agriculture research relevant to this? If so, are you in touch with the organisations working to advance this -- New Harvest and the Good Food Institute?
e.g. Solar Foods in Finland is using bacteria to produce protein from hydrogen: https://www.labiotech.eu/biotech-of-the-week/solar-foods-space-mission-finland/
These are not yet cost-effective, and they might not be feasible in a catastrophe, but the equipment, knowledge, and processes are probably highly transferable to other forms of microbial foods produced from single-cell proteins via hydrogen.
Cool! I found this post from your comment in this thread: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/wwW4u4sXbP8YbfBts/eagxvirtual-unconference-saturday-june-20th-2020. With interest rates dropping, high-yield savings accounts are becoming less attractive, at least in the US and UK. Does this affect your other recommendations too?
I think this is what Blake is talking about when he writes 'a lot of the true technical challenges are on the bioprocess design side'. These are exactly as you say -- the 'creation of thick cuts of any tissue' includes getting the right cell lines and having them differentiate into the right things at the right time, having the right scaffolds, and putting things into the right bioreactors.
Yes, and in fact there is probably more work on this from the EA community than on a/cellular agriculture. Many charities recommended by Animal Charity Evaluators focus on plant-based alternatives and meat reduction in general, such as the Good Food Institute, Albert Schweitzer Foundation, and Anima International.
The ‘approximate share’ columns are the current split for traditional animal products, as of 2018! I’ll update the text below to make it clearer.