Page 11 - Greenbank Review SP 2019
P. 11
Greenbank Review Spring 2019
    Environmental impacts
In May 2018, scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damaging impacts of farming declared
that avoiding meat and dairy products
was the single biggest thing an individual could do to help reduce environmental harm. The report, published in the journal Science, identified this solution as being significantly more effective than reducing air travel
or buying an electric car.
Beef production requires 20-times more
land and emits 20-times more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of edible protein
than plant-based sources such as beans,
peas and lentils. Indeed, if the world’s cattle were a nation, they would rank third in terms of greenhouse gas emissions behind China and the US.
Health impacts
As well as the personal health benefits of reducing red meat and dairy consumption, there are concerns about the impacts of industrial meat production on wider consumer health. Transmissible bacterial infections,
such as salmonella and campylobacter from contaminated poultry, can quickly spread through large farms, while intensive livestock production has been implicated in a series
of global health scares. It’s estimated that the 2014-15 bird flu outbreak in the US led to the cull of 42 million chickens, costing the economy almost $3.3 billion.
Antibiotic resistance (see pages 4-5) is also
a key risk with intensive livestock rearing reliant on routine doses of antibiotics to prevent diseases. Indeed, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in cattle farming (accounting for 75% of all antibiotics sold in the US and around 55% in the EU) has contributed to the development of antimicrobial resistance.
A third of UK consumers say
they have deliberately reduced the amount of meat they eat or removed it from their diet entirely.
Dietary changes
There were over 250,000 signatories to
the 2019 Veganuary campaign. Established practices such as vegetarianism and veganism have recently been joined by flexitarianism,
a semi-vegetarian dietary trend that favours
a largely plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat.
According to Waitrose, a third of UK consumers say they have deliberately reduced the amount of meat they eat or removed it from their diet entirely. One in eight Britons are vegetarian or vegan and a further 21% say they are flexitarian.
  Beyond plants:
alternative sources of protein
— SalesofmeatalternativeQuornrose12%inthefirst half of 2018; the company is set to spend £7 million in research and development this financial year.
— InNovember2018,BeyondMeat,aCalifornian producer of plant-based meat substitutes, announced it was attempting to raise $100 million on the back
of rapidly growing interest in vegan foods.
— Tesco,Waitrose,Sainsbury’sandIcelandareall expected to launch (or have launched) ‘bleeding vegan burgers’, inspired by California-based Impossible Foods, which has managed to replicate the taste and nutritional benefits of beef with plant-based products.
— Mealwormproteinforanimalfeedisalready supported extensively, with companies such as Beta Hatch having successfully raised initial funding of $2.1 million.
New technology
Current discussions around protein sources are dominated by news of start-ups offering synthetically- produced alternatives in the form of lab-grown meat and fish. Advocates for cellular agriculture argue that the process is more efficient in terms of land, water and energy consumption.
— DutchcompanyMosaMeathasalreadyraised
$8.8 million to commercialise its lab-grown meat, aiming to reduce the cost of its synthetically-grown beef burger to $10 per unit by 2021 (the 2013 prototype cost $330,000 to produce).
— SanFrancisco-basedJustisdevelopinglab- grown foie gras, while California’s Finless Foods is researching cellular agriculture for a range
of luxury seafood.
— AlongwithBillGates,TysonFoodsVentureCapital has invested in Memphis Meats, a lab-grown meat producer in the US.
To date, little is known about the environmental impact of lab-grown protein, but it’s argued that with enough time and capital, technology will improve and the effects of economies of scale will allow cellular agriculture to become energy, cost and time-efficient. The time and money being invested in researching protein alternatives nevertheless indicates a growing number of options that businesses will have to commercialise healthier
and lower-impact sources of protein.
We are grateful to our intern, Charlie Meyrick, for his work in researching this topic.

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