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Moo or Boo?

We’ve all heard about the Veggie burger phenomenon, but have you heard of your burgers being grown in a lab? Scientists believe that meat grown in a lab will be the new big trend, and replace 50% of global meat consumption. Many people think the idea that animal-based alt-meat will be effectively efficient in replacing our meat consumption, and others do not agree with the idea of lab-grown meat being their next meal placed at the dinner table.

There are many advantages to replacing regular meat with lab-grown meat. Scientists have proven that eating clean meat will be more environmentally friendly, and more economically sustainable. A biologist from England's University in Oxford states, “Meat Production is one of the most important ways in which humanity affects the environment.” Agriculture contributes to about 14% of global, greenhouse gas emissions, pollutes water worldwide, and destroys many natural habitats. Another estimate from a 2013 report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization states, “Greenhouse gases from animal farming account for more than one-seventh of all those gases emitted by human activities.” researchers are thinking the lab-grown meat will probably have less of an impact on greenhouse gases than farming today's beef production does. So why is this important? Because our population is constantly growing, scientists are saying that by 2050, our population will more than double in size. As of right now, 70% of the world's population is dependent on livestock for sustainability and food security. That means that as our population grows, the demand for meat will increase. Scientists believe that the demand for meat will eventually rise above the amount of meat we can supply.

As with all new scientific ideas, especially ones that will be eaten, many people will have concerns and questions, and even be against them. For lab-grown meat, it’s all about the ick factor. Lots of people question whether or not lab-grown meat will have the same, taste, texture, smell, looks, nutritional value, and cooking ability that regular meat has. In turn, not everyone agrees that lab-grown meat should be labeled as “meat” at all. A food safety expert Catherine Hutt, a former assistant administrator for the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, thinks that scientists should take precautions when labeling this new food. She states, “It’s about transparency for the consumer. in order to make sure that the consumer knows whether they’re choosing this cell-based meat-like product or an actual meat product.” Another scientist argues that the process behind getting this cell-based meat on the market will take longer, and she expects the debate behind labeling this cell-based meat will drag on for longer than scientists were originally guessing. She states, “The federal regulatory system moves slowly, and deliberately. It’s a process that takes time; the federal government is doing what it needs to protect the consumer.”

So whether or not your team “Clean meat,” or just want to stick to your regular hamburgers and hot dogs, scientists will continue to develop this new and ever-improving lab-grown meat. Although lab-grown meat is more environmentally friendly and economically sustainable, the ick factor of clean meat will be an obstacle to overcome. So next time you go to a fancy restaurant, you might want to double-check that your meat is from a cow, and not from a petri dish!

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