Massive environmental impacts of bioreactor technology ignored in media techno-hype
2 December 2020
GM WATCH — The article below offers a largely uncritical view of lab-grown fake meat, which has just been approved in Singapore.
The article gives the briefest of mentions to the “relatively high use of energy and therefore carbon emissions” of current fake meat production. We’re told that “once scaled up its manufacturers say it will produce much lower emissions and use far less water and land than conventional meat”.
But this is extremely unlikely ever to happen. Fake meat is made in bioreactors, which are not only enormously energy-hungry but also gobble up huge amounts of nutrients, as we’ve explained in detail before. The culture of cells used to produce synthetic meat requires dozens of ingredients, including minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose and eye-wateringly expensive growth factors.
Many of these ingredients, especially the growth factors, in turn need to be manufactured from genetically engineered bacteria or mammalian cells – in other bioreactors. Infrastructure will be needed to create the supply chain that will enable one bioreactor to be ‘fed’ by others, as well as to transport raw materials to the bioreactors and dispose of the waste. […]