The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
FDA Takes First Steps to Regulating Lab-Grown Meat
By Dan Nosowitz
Lab-grown meat—also known as cultured meat or in vitro meat—has long been enticing for its potential environmental, social and economic benefits.
Lab-grown meat is not yet for sale—one of the most important American companies in the space, Memphis Meats, doesn't expect to start selling its products until 2021—but it is coming. And that's why the FDA, smartly, called for a public meeting to try to figure out just what to do with this stuff.
Lab-grown meat is typically made by harvesting certain kinds of cells, like embryonic stem cells, from living animals such as chickens or cows. Those cells are then placed on a sort of scaffolding, surrounded by a protein-rich medium, and allowed to grow. The scaffolding itself is made to be edible.
It is possible to acquire the initial animal cells without harming the animal in question, and it's also theoretically possible to grow vast quantities of lab-grown meat from a single initial cell—it's sort of like harvesting seeds from the fruit of a plant you grew from a seed. The possible benefits of lab-grown meat are obvious and enormous: Some studies suggest that lab-grown meat would require half as much energy as regular meat, produce a quarter of the greenhouse gases, take up basically no arable land space and greatly reduce water needs as well.
The FDA recently announced a public meeting, to be held on July 12th, to discuss how to regulate lab-grown meat. The FDA plans to start with some basic questions: How should lab-grown meat be evaluated for safety? What sorts of medium should be allowed? What kinds of manufacturing methods should be permitted?
The FDA also noted that it expects labeling to be a major topic of conversation. Dan Murphy, writing for Drovers (a long-running meat and livestock industry publication), affirms that expectation. Murphy wrote: "The entrepreneurs branding and positioning their creations want to identify them as "beef" or "chicken," even though they're not derived from conventional animal agriculture. To avoid problems down the road, if and when such products become price-competitive and thus more widely available, unique names ought to be required so that there is a clear line between meat from livestock and alt-meat from a factory."
The meat industry is likely to take a great deal of interest in this FDA meeting, and the regulations to follow. Some are already hedging their bets; Tyson, for example, is already an investor in Memphis Meats. We, too, will be following this closely.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Carey Gillam
For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.
The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.
By Jake Johnson
A Greenpeace report released Tuesday uses a hypothetical "Smart Supermarket" that has done away with environmentally damaging single-use plastics to outline a possible future in which the world's oceans and communities are free of bags, bottles, packaging and other harmful plastic pollutants.
By Irene Banos Ruiz
Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.
Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.