Detractors of cultivated meat and seafood have been spreading a preprint study (preceding formal peer-review or publication in a peer-reviewed journal) and twisting the findings as the latest salvo in an organised misinformation campaign. The following response represents cellular agriculture startups across European Union, Switzerland, Israel, and the United Kingdom in order to add valuable context for reporters and stakeholders viewing these results.
· In an attempt to spread misinformation, some are twisting the authors’ results by ignoring important caveats and a range of scenarios
· The fundamental assumptions in this preprint report do not reflect actual industry plans or sourcing practices for cell feed
· European Commission funded research has already proven food grade components can be used for cell feed
· Peer-reviewed research published in the International Journal for Life Cycle Assessments found cultivated meat can produce up to 92% fewer greenhouse gases
· Cultivated meat founders and social impact investors support this technology to help address the climate crisis and our products will deliver on that promise
Brussels, 26th May 2023: Researchers at the University of California, Davis recently conducted an assessment of the potential environmental impact of cultivating meat using highly refined, pharmaceutical-grade components for cell feed for commercial scale market entries. Under this unrealistic worst-case scenario, the environmental scores were poor. However, they also note that the ability to use food grade components could produce up to 80% fewer greenhouse gasses than conventional beef production. Detractors have cherry picked language from the study for click bait emails to stakeholders across the European Union, with a handful of reporters following suit.
The reality is that the fundamental assumption in the report does not reflect actual industry plans or sourcing practices for cell feed. No company will scale up using expensive pharmaceutical-grade ingredients, and we have already proven that we do not need them. Joint research by Nutreco and Mosa Meat, which was funded by the European Commission, has proven food-grade ingredients can be used for up to 99.2% of the base cell feed. These advancements are happening at rapid speeds and there is every indication that suitable replacements for all pharma-grade ingredients will be in place as cellular agriculture scales up in the coming years.
Additionally, the most recent peer-reviewed life-cycle assessment of our foods was based on producing cultivated meat at a commercial scale and showed dramatically different and positive results. These data also included ingredients lists from over 15 companies involved in the industry supply chain. The findings were formally peer-reviewed and published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessments and found that cultivated meat produced at scale using renewable energy could reduce the carbon footprint by 92%, land use by 90%, and water use by 66% compared to conventional beef production. This UC Davis study has not been through a peer-review, so the assumptions and conclusions may change.
While differing approaches to analysis and modelling can be a sign of a healthy scientific ecosystem, they should be based on the real circumstances for which these innovative food production techniques will reach commercial scale, and not a prognostication based on the R&D phase. Additionally, they should be reported on in a responsible manner with the range of findings discussed instead of cherry picked to support a pre-existing narrative.
The European Union has a pressing need to transition to a more sustainable and resilient food system in order to meet our ambitious climate, biodiversity and food security goals. We need not be distracted by a vocal minority of detractors who oppose any innovations to how we produce proteins. Cellular Agriculture Europe members are ready and willing to work constructively with stakeholders in the EU to integrate our complementary protein solutions with the current agricultural systems for a just, sustainable, and future-proof food system.