« Freakonomics Radio

367. The Future of Meat

2019-02-13 | 🔗

Global demand for beef, chicken, and pork continues to rise. So do concerns about environmental and other costs. Will reconciling these two forces be possible — or, even better, Impossible™?

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Let's begin with a few basic facts that number one a lot of people all over the world really like to eat meat, especially beef, pork and chicken. If you add them all together, were actually higher than we ve been and in recent history, its Jason Musk profess and head of the Agricultural Economics Department at Produce University. I study what we eat and why we eat it. And then in terms of overall meat consumption per capita. In the? U S, how do we rank worldwide? Wear it the king of mediators, so compared almost any other country in the world, we eat more meat per capita, even Brazil, Argentina, yes, yes, and partly difference is income based, so if you took nineteen in Brazil and adjusted for income. They would probably be consuming more than us, but we happen to be rigorously eat a little more. The average amount,
consumes roughly two hundred pounds of meat a year at an average, so that's it you're a meat, eater someone in your family's vegetarian. You may he putting away four hundred pounds a year, but in America at least there aren't that many vegetation I probably have the largest data set vegetarians of any other researcher, that I know really why I've been doing a survey of U S: food consumers every month. For about five years and one of the questions I ask as our you have a vague and are a vegetarian, so over five years time and about a thousand people a month about about sixty thousand observations well, and is this nation wide data survey? It is representative in terms of aid and income education, I'd say on average you're looking at about three to five percent of people say yes to that question: that's it The very slight uptake over the last five years? So again, a lot of me eating in America waters other countries that consume lotta meat,
failure and New Zealand, Israel, Canada, Russia, most european countries and increasingly what things we know is it when consumers get low more income in their pocket when the first things do we want to add high value proteins to their diet. What is the relationship generally between GDP in meat consumption? Positive? although so the diminishing returns. So as you get to really high income levels, it might even tail off a little bit, but certainly at the lower end of that spectrum, as it can, ray grows and adds more GDP start to see some pretty rapid increases in meat consumption. Meat consumption is, of course, driven by social and religious factors as well by health concerns and animal welfare. Not everyone agrees. Is that humans should be eating animals at all. That said, probably assume that the demand for me will continue to rise is more. The world keeps getting richer, how's the supply side, doing
this increased demand quite well. The meat industry is massive and complicated and often heavily subsidized, but long story. If you go by the availability of meat and especially what consumers pay. This is an economic success so prices of almost Oliver meat products have declined. Pretty considerable. over the last. Sixty two, hundred years and in the reason is that we have become so much more productive at producing meat. If you look up most of the statistics like them out of port produced per Sal, you ve taken, a lot of the sea no variation at least to see as these animals have been brought in doors and aunt em. Look it at poultry production broiler production. The amount of me that's produced per
broiler has risen dramatically, almost doubled savour last, be no fifty two hundred years, while also consuming slightly less feed. That's due largely to selective breeding and other technologies same goes for beef reduction. We get a lot more meat per animal, for example, on a smaller amount of land. As you can imagine, people concerned with animal welfare may not celebrate these efficiency. Movements and then there's the argument that, despite these efficiency improvements, turning animals into food is why we inefficient because accounting devolved to be meet, that's the thing. That's tat Brown use a long time. Stanford biomedical researcher was done groundbreaking work in genetics. The cow evolved, a cow and make more cows and not eaten by humans, and it's not very good at making me meaning It takes an enormous amount of food and water and other resources to turn
a cow or a pig into dinner, much more than plant based foods and is pat round sees it. That is not even the worst of it, the most environmentally destructive technology on earth using animals in food production, nothing else even comes close Not everyone agrees that meat production is the environment's biggest enemy, but not in dispute. Global demand for me is high and rising and that the production of meat is resource intensive. And, at the very least, an environmental challenge with implications for climate change. Pat Brown thinks he has a solution to these problems. He has started company whose mission is to completely replace animals as a food production technology by twenty thirty five. The meat industry, as you can imagine, has other ideas we want it
the term needs to what is traditionally harvest then raised in the traditional manner today Humphrey radio, everything I want to know about me about needless meat and where meat meets the future, I'm happy from stature and debonnair productions. This is Reaganomics radio. The casket explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your house, Stephen Governor
What determines which food you put in your mouth every day. There are plainly alot of factors, personal preference, tradition, geography on the non, so take something like horse consumption. That you knows it's almost unheard of to even think about consuming a horse in the United States, Jason Musk again the the cultural economists. whereas you no good at Belgium, France, it there will be a commonly consume dish, but there's another big factor that determines who eat what technology technology related to how food is grown, preserved, transported but also techniques, that isn't even related to the food itself. Consider the case of mutton is the meat of an adult sheep
meat of young sheep, it's called Lamb. I am willing to bet that you have not eaten mutton in the last six months. Probably the last six years, maybe never but if we were talking a hundred years ago, different story, but certainly the case that vacuum teen, twenties and thirty, that that mutton was a much more commonly consumed product. Mutton was a staple of the american diet, the standard items ship to soldiers during world war. Two was canned mutton, but shortly after the war, mutton started to disappear, but how a sheep, is not just me. Ok, the sheep is not just meet these arm. Malta, product species and their valuable, now just for their meat but further wall, oh yeah wool- and like leather, which can be harvested only once from an animal. You can cheer wool from one sheep, many times so for many years, so anything that affects them
demand for is also then affect the internal market for the rest of the drawing animals and what might affect the demand for wool. How about synthetic substitutes? Nylon, for instance, was created by do pot in nineteen thirty five became available to the public in eighteen, forty a year later, polyester was invented so in an italian new clothing. Take Jeez come along. That's gonna affect them buying demand for four. She but make them less less valuable than they would have been, otherwise, so an increase in synthetic fabrics. led to a shrinking demand for wool, which meant that, although sheep that had been kept around four shearing no longer needed to be kept around also, wool subsidies were repealed and America's sheep flock drastically shrank from high of fifty six million. In linking forty two, nearly five million today, but is amazing. I've worked out several,
also universities across the. U s now and often the largest cheap herds in those states are at the university research. Farms in fewer sheep meant less mutton for dinner. Is it possible Americans? Would it updating mutton without the rise of synthetic fabrics. Absolutely if you, a room full of meat eaters to name their favorite me? I doubt one of them will say mutton still. This is just one example of how technology can have a big effect on the meat we eat and if you talk to certain people, it's easy to believe that we're on the verge of a similar but much larger technological shit Ok, my name is bad brown. I'm currently the ceo and found it impossible foods
whose mission is to completely replace animals as a food production. Technology brown grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC, as well as Paris and tie pays father work for the CIA. He studied to be a pediatrician and, in fact completed his medical residency, but he switched to buy chemistry, research- I had the best job in the world at Stanford. My job was basically to discover and invent things and follow my curiosity. Brown did this for many years and was considered a world class researcher. One of his breakthroughs was a new tool for genetic mapping. It's called the DNA Micro array. Let you read all the words at the salaries using an effectively kind. start to learn, the vocabulary learn how the genome rights
the life story of a sour, something I got. It also has practical applications, because what it's doing in a sort of a deterministic way specifies the potential of that sell or if it's a cancer, some people think the DNA Micro array will win. Pat Brown, a Nobel prize when I bring this up just shakes his head smiles its clear that his research was a deep passion. For me, this was the dream job was like in the renaissance in having them the cheese as patrons are, Something like that? But after many there is Brown wanted a change he was in his mid fifties. He took a sabbatical figure out his next move. It start out with stepping back from the work of his doing and ask myself what the most important thing I could do What can I do that we have the biggest positive impact on the world and looking at what are the biggest
Unsolved problems in the world you know came relatively quickly. The conclusion that the use of arms the food production technology is by far and I could give you endless reasons why that's true, but it is absolutely true by far them, environmentally destructive thing that humans do. There indeed, a great deal of evidence for this argument across the entire environmental spectrum. The agricultural historian, James Mc Williams, in a book called just food, are used quote every environmental problem related to contemporary agriculture ends up having its deepest roots in meat production, mano, cropping, excessive applications of nitrogen fertilizer addiction to insecticides, rain forest depletion, land degradation to Soil run off declining water supplies, even global warming. All these problems, Mc Williams Rights, would be considerably less severe if people eat meat. Rarely, if ever
mean others, no doubt that meat production has environmental consequences. Jason less began to suggest That is the most damaging environmental thing we do is, I think, a pretty extreme overstatement, but what about the greenhouse gas emissions associated with it? using me, especially in the U S, which is the world's largest beef producers. There own EPA, environmental Protection agency suggest that all of livestock contributes. Three percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions. So I made three percent not nothing, but it's it's not the major contributor that we see that that now I should say- is much higher and many other parts of the world, so the carbon and impacts per I'm produced are so much smaller here than law the other world that when you tell people the waiter he's carbon emissions is to intensify our production. That's not a story! A lot of people like to hear because China, it sounds like it's against animal welfare. Well, too,
exactly one as there are concerns about animal welfare, particularly when you're talking about broiler- chickens or or hogs. less about cattle and the other one is there are concerns about when you concentrate lie animals when placing it on his waste. In in a location that you have to think about creating ways to deal with the don't have some significant environmental problems, so the EPA number livestock contribute three percent designing through the entire production chain, though, because Some of the numbers of icy from environmental activists is much much higher than that them an estimate that you often hear from it originally was created in this report called livestock. Long shadow is something around nineteen percent, but that nineteen percent rough, the number is a global number. Actually. There was a study that came out pointing out some flaws in that they reduced it. Some life,
In any case, there is a growing concern in many quarters over the externalities of meat production over the last four five to ten years, there's been a lot of negative publicity of stories about environment impacts about carbon emissions, about animal welfare, and if you do Look at the news stories. You would think boy, people must be really cutting back, given the sort of frightful stories that you see on the front pages of the newspapers. But if you look at the data itself, demand fairly stable and so that estimates there. It's it's hard to change people's preference on us. There's something about meat consumption. Some people would argue that were evolved, tell like meat that it's a protein? Invite him unpacked, we know tasty punch that weave.
Own to enjoy as a species. There are some people that even argue. That is one of the reasons we became a smart as we did vitamins in nature and so in that meet allowed our brains to develop in certain ways that it might have not. Otherwise, Pat Brown saw that theme, strong preference for me He decided that the number one scientific problem to solve was replacing animals as food, and it a problem that nobody was working on in any serious way, because everybody recognise that most people, the world, including most environmental scientists and people care about this stuff. I love the foods. We get man was so much that I can't imagine giving those up. Brown himself was on time, Regan side, the I haven't, eaten you need for decades and that's just personal choice that I made long be
I realise the destructive impact of that industry. That was, I try to meet for other reasons wasn't something that I felt like you know. I was in a position to tell other people to do and I still don't feel like there's any value in doing that. Brown makes an interesting point here, many of us when we feel strongly about thing an environmental issue or social or economic issue were inclined to put forth a moral argument: a moral argument, would appear to be persuasive evidence of the highest order. You should do this thing because it's the right thing to do, but there a ton of research showing that moral arguments are generally ineffective, people may smile at you and nod, but they won't change your behavior. That's what Brown realized about meat
the basic problem is said that people are not gonna stop lying these food and the only way you can solve it is not by asked and meet you halfway and given my substandard products, it deliver what they know they, on from meat or fair charade my dad. They only waited It is, you have to say we're gonna, do the much harder thing which is working to figure out how to make meet its, not just as delicious as the meat we get from animals. It's more delicious and better nutritionally and more affordable and so forth. In other words, a marginal improvement on the standard veggie burger would not do it Ben try it just doesn't work to waste of effort, so Brown started fooling around in his lap doing some kind of micro experiments just to convince me in a way that this was doable. Those early experiments were fairly encouraging. I felt like ok, there's a bunch of things. I thought
could be useful and then I felt like I could just Oh in with a little bit more confidence to talk the investors, the investors, meaning venture capitalists, remember Brown is at Stanford, which is next door to the biggest pile of venture capital in the history of the world. Then, basically, by pit- that was you know it was. It was very naive from fundraising stem whiteness and said, I'm basically, I most I just told them about how there's this absolutely critical, invite mental disaster that needs to be solved and and they're probably expecting to hear something now about carbon capture more yeah, that's it that's the thing and most people still arm so I made via so I am told these guys, look. This is an environmental disaster. No is doing think about it, I'm gonna absolved for you. So how does the almost pediatrician, who became a freewheeling biochemist bill?
a better meat from the ground up, amazing story after the break: ok bingo! This is how we're gonna do it it is estimated that more than half of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with all animal agriculture comes from cows, and that is due to the fact that If our ruminant animals, the Purdue economists, Jason Lust again, there's stuff, produce methane comes. the front not the back end is a lot of people. Think and consequence. We look at carbon consequences is mainly beef that people focus on not import or chicken, because they do I have the same kind of digestive systems. There has been progress in this area. For instance, it turns out that adding sea weed to cattle feed
drastically reduces their methane output, but the scientists, Pat Brown, is looking for much bigger change to the animal agriculture industry. If I could snap my fingers and make that industry disappear right now, which I would do if I could and would be a great thing for the world. It is very unlikely to disappear I'm soon it is a trillion dollar global industry support. in many places by government subsidies selling products. The billions of people consume once twice even three times a day. Pat Browns desire would seem to be an impossible one. The company he founded is called impossible foods its essentially a tech start up and its rays, nearly four hundred million dollars to date in venture capital. So we ve only been in existence for about seven years and
We have about three hundred people. We started by. Basically, building a team of some of the best scientists in the world to study how meet works. Basically, By that I mean to really understand basic level, the way In my previous life, when I was about medical scientist, we might be studying how a normal cell of this particular kind becomes. A cancer cell understand, the basic biochemical mechanisms in this case, but we I do understand, was what are the basic biochemical mechanisms? account for the unique flavour chemistry in this. ever behaviour and aromas and textures inducing us and all those are called is that consumers value in meat and we spend about two and a half years, just doing basic research, trying to answer that question before we
really started working on a product and then decided strategic reasons that our first product would be wild ground beef made entirely from plants, because burger is what people want or there's a lot of reasons? Why? I think there's a ghost as the largest single category meat. In the? U S, it's probably the most iconic kind of meat in the? U S, it seem like the idea of vehicle for communicating to consume, Is there a delicious meet? Doesn't come from animals because its it sort of Lee Buber meet for a lot of people who were lowered. You. A lot of people are not Yale and burgers neurotic guide and beef production is the most environmentally destructive segment of the culture industry. So, from an impact standpoint chances are choice.
So Pat Brown said about replacing the scientific wisdom. He d crude over a long, fruitful career in biomedicine, a career that may improve the health and well being of countless lions and now he got to work on a truly earthshaking project, building a better burger, a burger that doesn't come from a cow, an impossible burger. So how did that work? What ingredients do put in an impossible? Burger that's an interesting aspect about the signs, which is that we didn't look for what are the precisely specific choices of ingredients that would work We we ve, studied. What are the biochemical properties we need, from the side of ingredients, and then we did
survey of things available from the plant world that match those biophysical pro these and so forth, of which there were choices. So what are the main components of this burger I can tell you what it's made of right now. That's what it's me, right now is different from always made to you go, and that was it. from how is made two and a half years ago, and then version: we're going to launch has not quite different sellers ingredients. We first interviewed brown several months ago. The main ingredients at the time include, did a protein from we'd protein from potatoes not start from potatoes, but a protein from tears, a byproduct, starch production among the other ingredients. Cocoanut oils are major fats,
worse and then we have a bunch of other small molecules but they're all familiar things amino acids, vitamin sugars nutrients, but all these ingredients did not make Pat Browns Plant based Hamburger, meet taste or act or look lake hamburger me. It was still missing a critical component. A campaign called keen, Hooker, Sohemus, founded and essentially every living thing and him in play this inhuman animals is the exact same molecule. Ok, it's it's just one of the most ubiquitous and fundamental molecules in life on earth period, the system, burns calories to produce energy use is here as an essential component and it's what cares auction in your blood and what makes your blood red and none of this we just covered. This has been known for a long time end and so animal have a lot more heem than plants, and it's a very high concentration of Heem that accounts for the unique flavors of meat that you would recognise something as me
it's the overwhelming dominant factor in making the union taste of meat, that is, it is involved and texture and mouth feel and all that is well. It s, taste, just tat justice text. Her now feel really important, there's a whole another set of research around that super important Carnegie Kind, short shrift, because people think of the flavors part of most dramatic thing about meat, but you have to get other stuff right to Brown his team of scientists. After a couple years of research and experimentation, we're getting a lot of that stuff right, but without Heem a lot of Heem their meat list, meat would never resemble meat. So there is one component of a certain kind of and that has a high concentration of human, that is in plants, had fixed nitrogen technology from the air and turned into fertilizer, they have a structure called route, not nodule where fixation takes place,
for reasons that are too complicated to explain right now. They they that has a high concentration team, and I just happen to know this from way back and if you slice open the root nodules of one of these plants, They have such a high concentration of him that they look like a freshly cut, stake, ok and, and it a calculation about the concentration of that stuff soya hemoglobin protein, which is vital identical to the high protein and muscle tissue, which called Maya Globe, and that there is enough legume open only route, nodules of EU soybean crop to replace all the Heem while the meat consumed in The- u s- okay, so I thought genius. Ok, we'll just go on arrest. All these root, nodules from the? U I soybean crop and we'll get the stuff practically for free. Well, sir, raise money for the company and I we spent like half the money trying to figure
how to harvest rude nodules from soybean plant. Only basically to finally convince ourselves said there was a terrible idea, but if you are a veteran scientists like Brown, a little failure It is not so off putting you know, you're gonna be doing things that are pushing the limits and trying entire new things and a lot of money going to fail, and if you don't have a high tolerance for that and realise that base by the way you do really really important cool stuff is by try a lot of things and not punishing yourself for further fires, but just celebrating the successes you know you're, not gonna accomplished as much in the idea of buying up all root nodules of the? U S, soybean crop wasn't a complete failure. I mean we got enough, though we could do experiments is that really was magic ingredient from flavour and so forth? But then we have to start over and then what we did was. We said: okay,
engineer a micro organisms produced gobs of their seem protein, ok, and since now we bound by any natural source. We looked at like three dozen different Heem Protein Everything from you know pair museum, too the barley to Hell's gate bacteria, which is like this at the plant else, gets back there's a factory that lives in and deep sea events it near newsy on that's their survivors temperatures above the boiling point of water that we mostly just looked at for fun but fighting by down. The reason we rejected is that that you did so he'd stable, that you can cook a burger to cooking temperature, still says stays bright red because it doesn't unfold, but anyway, and then we pick the best one which turned out to be are just coincidence,
way. Soya hemoglobin, which was the one we're going as far as your turn, millennial is actually pretty good. It wasn't really brilliant idea. Accidently turn out to be the right choice through the magic of modern plant engineering, Pat Grounds team began. Creating mass of stocks of him in that Heem would help catapult the impossible burger well beyond the realm of the standard, veggie burger, the mostly unloved, veggie burger. We should say the impossible burger looks like hamburger me when its raw and when its cooked it behaves like hamburger me most important. It tastes like hamburger me Mary. How would you like that? media media The free comics ray
A team recently ate some impossible burgers in a restaurant near Times square. I actually like it tastes like good day impossible. Rhubarb, economic, but Zack with Kinsky Allison, regular Ryan Kelly and Gregg Ribbon. Their meal happened, Cohen, I'd with the release of impossible burger to point. Oh, an updated recipe that uses a soil protein instead of a weak protein and has a few more tweaks, less salt, sunflower oil to cut the cocoanut oil and no more as anthem, gossamer conduct gum. My own tasting experience impossible burger. One point no was really good, but little slushy to point no was burger testing. I did not record my burger tasting, but if I did
it sounded like this. These are, of course, our subjective observations. Here's some actual evidence impasse. Burgers are already being served in roughly five thousand locations, primarily in the? U S, but also Hong Kong and Macao. These include very high. restaurants in New York and California, as well as fast food chains, lake. Me Berger and even White Castle this year impossible plans to start selling its burger me in grocery stores, we ve grown in terms of our sales and revenue and so forth about dirty fold in the past year, and our goal is to completely replace animal footprint. only by twenty thirty five? That means we have to approximately double in size and impact: every year for the next you know, eighteen years are we You stand that you are taking aim at pigs and chickens and fishes. Well, yes, of course, so when we fall,
started out we were working on technology platform and sort of the know how about how meat in general, we are working on undressed. In dairy products and cheeses and stuff like that, and then we decide. Ok, we have to pick one product along with and then we have to move from a commercialization standpoint. Just go in on it for a while, as the scientists, as I say, interest. Were you reluctant to candid narrow yourself for that commercial interest, or did you who appreciate that this is the way in this world. Things actually happen. Both I mean. Let's put it this way. I would like to be able to to pursue all these things in Peru and if I had the resources I would, but if we launched another product right now, just be competing guest ourselves for resources personalization, so just would doesn't make any sense. We put out an epoch,
not long ago called two totally opposite ways to save the planet, get featured the science journalist, Charles man. Are we going to deal with climate change, their from two ways that have been suggested, overarching ways to represent if you like poles and a continuum and they ve been fighting with each other for decades. The two poles represented by what man calls in his latest book, the wizard and the profit. The prophet sees environmental destruction as a problem best addressed by restoring nature too natural state. The wizard me my believes that technology can address environmental dangers. This is, of course, a type apology. A shorthand, a profit doesn't know,
belief: beer technology anymore than a wizard fears, nature. That said, if there were ever an embodiment of the wizard profit, hybrid, a person driven by idealism and pragmatism in equal measure, I'd say it's Pat Brown, which means his invention has the capacity to upset people all across the spectrum, the consumers and activists two might cheer a meet with meat are often the same sort of people who are anti GMO. Genetically modified organisms in the impossible burger would not have been possible without its genetically modified Heem, which, by the way, the FDA recently declared safe after challenges from environmental groups like friends of the earth, another group that might object to impossible foods, the meat industry,
you know the ones who use actual animals to raise food. My name is Kelly Photography and I serve as the executive vice president for the United States, Cattlemen Association and I am a fifth generation- beef cattle rancher here in Oakdale California, I'm just curious the woman. Do you find yourself ever wishing the? U S, cattlemen Susie she would change or namer you ok with it. You know it's funny. You mentioned that there is always a little over a notion. in the back of my mind of of you know, of course, being an history. For so long. I I take it as representing all of the livestock industry, but you no definite having a nod to The female ranchers out there would be nice to have as well and what is the primary difference between the? U S: cabins Association and the National Catalans Beef Association as the United States government,
the situation. We are made up primarily of cattle producers, so your family ranches, you know cow calf operations run by pretty servers and kind of for producers is what U S. Yea was built on, whereas National Catamounts Beef Association does includes two more of occur influences as well. As you know, some of the processing facilities as well. Can you just talk, and only for a moment how big of a threat does the beef industry IE from alternative quote meat. So, from our end, you know, and looking at the quota quote meat and appreciate you he'd, o using those courts around that term. from Aryan we're not so much seeing it as a threat to our product. What we are really looking at is not limit on consumer choice or trying to back one product out of the market. It's really to make sure that were keeping the information out. There
curate and that what is available to consumers and what is being shown to consumers on labels is accurate to what the product actually is. Two thousand eighteen phobias organization filed a petition with the USDA to prevent products from being labelled as beef poor meat. Unless they come from cow I mean. Does that mean that your organization thinks that consumers are can Used by labeling is that the primary Direction so the primary objection from funding he's kind of an association is that we want to keep the term meet today. Is traditionally harvest then raised in the traditional manner, and so when we see
her meat being put on these products. That is not derived from that definition. What our producers came to us and really wanted us to act on was what we saw happening in other industry. Specifically, when you look at the dairy industry and where the term milk has now been used, almond milk, for instance, which comes from almonds, not animals which led the national Milk produced this federation to argue that it should not be sold as almond milk. The FDA agreed its commissioner pointed out that quoth, an almond doesn't lactating. There are important differences between so called milk. This doesn't come from animals and so called me. It doesn't come from animals, almond milk as very different nutritional content, then cow's milk, possible. Burger, meanwhile, has a similar nutritional profiles to hamburger
being the iron content, which regions can have trouble getting enough. That's another my colleague, photography and the? U S comments Association might not want the impossible burger to believe me I'm just curious about the kind of I guess mental state of you, or industry, because I was looking your facebook page and one post the other day lead with with the following eat or be eaten B at the table or on the menu fight or be forgotten said that sounds would make me believe that the future of me, is one in which capital ranchers feel a little bit like an endangered species or at least under assault. I think that speaks to a lot of, I think misconceptions that are out there regarding.
the? U S, beef industry, whether it be in terms of you, know, nutrition, environment, animal welfare. We really been hit from a lot of different angles over the years. Ok, According to some scientific research, meat production and or cattle ranching are among the most environmentally damaging activities on on earth between the resource intensively, this land, but especially water and the extra nowadays, the run off of manoeuvring. The goals into groundwater. I think one of the first point to make is that cattle, are really there defined, as as what is termed as up cycle and so cattle today they're turning plans?
have little to no nutritional value, just as is into a high quality and a highly high dense protein, and so when you look at where cattle are grazing in the? U S and then also occur, The world a lot of the land that their grazing on our land, that is not suitable for crops, or would be a kind of looking as a the marginal type of of land and the ability of livestock to turn. What is their into something that can feed the world is pretty remarkable Photography believes her. Industry has been unfairly maligned. That has come to be seen as a target for environmentalist groups and causes, I would absolutely say it out. The livestock industry and- and
that matter. The agriculture industry as a whole, I think, has really been at the brunt of a lot of a lot of disinformation campaigns for many points that you M report, claiming that the global livestock industries, greenhouse gas emissions were shockingly high, a report that was found to be built on faulty calculations. Yes, it was a really in an equitable and and grossly inflated percentage that really turned a conversation. The inflated percentage around eighteen percent was really around fourteen point. Five percent, so grossly inflated. Maybe I of the aggrieved forward. He said is that even though the air was acknowledged and a revised report was issued, folks have not forgotten it as much as we wish it still something that it's hard to have folks kind of on red- or I know something that they had initially saw
the fact is that the agricultural industry is massive and massively complex without question. It exempts costs on the environment It also provides benefits that are literally the stuff of life, delicious abundant, affordable food, as with any industry. There are trade offs and there's friction. Activists tend to overstate claims in order to encourage reform. Industry defenders tend to paper over the legitimate concerns, but in the food industry especially It is clear that a revolution is under way a revolution to have our food be not just delicious and abundant and affordable, but sustainable too, with fewer negative externalities. Some start ups lake
possible foods focused on cleverly engineering plant matter to taste like the animal flesh. So many people love others start ups are working on. What's called lab grown me using animal stem cells to grow food without animals, this is still quite young technology, but its very well funded It was curious to hear Kelly phobias view of this. One of the investors in the lab meet Quote Company Memphis meets is cargo, which is major constituent of the big meat industry. I mean their investor for what it's worth his bill gates. But I'm curious, what's with your position that, because the way think about this, long term. Presumably a firm like Cargill can win. The future with alternative quote, in a way that a cavalry ensure can so I'm curious what the position is.
Ranchers on this kind of investment, from a firm like Cargill, or their firms that are sort of heading there bats and on the future of meat. You know and that it's a really interesting point, and it's it's been a bit of a tough pill for producers to swallow. The fact that some of the big three some of these big processing plants that have been so obviously heavily focused and have been stock dominant, are now kind of going into this alternative in and then sometimes the cell culture lab meets alternative proteins, and it really has in point of contention among the large producers who are confused, ensure feel a little beds. You no kind of I'll try think of the right term here, but they betray bye, bye history bed, but a little bit so others may soon feel betrayed is
a company called modern meadows, is using similar to algae to grow leather in the lab, without the need for cattle. The israeli company super meat is focused on growing chicken and then there's a company called friendless goods. Phyllis Foods is taking seafood back to basics and creating real fish me. Entirely without mercury plastic without the need for antibiotics or growth hormones, and also without the need for fishing or the killing of animals, because we grow the fish directly from stem cells, its MIKE Selden, the coffee. Learn. Ceo of friendless is twenty seven years old started out as a cancer researcher. Like Pat Brown, you could call him the wizard profit hybrid. He does take issue with the idea of lab grown food. The reality is like labs art by deafened.
an experimental and are not scalable seat. This won't be grown in a lab at all. It's prototypes lab in the same way that snacks or prototypes in a lab doritos are prototyping lab by material scientists looking at different dimensions of like crunching tour in all these other sort of mechanical properties. So what our facility will look like when actually production skill is something really a lot closer to a brewery, big steel tanks that are sort of allowing these cells space in order to divide and grow into large quantities of themselves, while access all of the nutrients that we put inside of this nutritional broth. The fishing industry, like the meat industry, exact its share of environmental costs but like Pat Brown, make Selden, does not want his company to win on goodwill points
so the goal of Finland's foods is not to create something that compete on ethics or morals or environmental goals it something that will compete on taste, price and nutrition. The things that people actually care about. You know. Right now, everybody really loves whales and people hate when whales are killed. What changed, because we to kill Wales for their blubber. In order to light lamps, it wasn't an f movement? It wasn't that people woke up one day and decided o killing. Wales is wrong. It was that we ended using kerosene. Instead, we found another technological solution, a supply side, change that didn't play on people's morals. In order to win We see ourselves as something like that. You know why, work with an animal at all? If you dont need to? Indeed, you could imagine in the not too distant future a scenario in which you could instantly summon any food imaginable. New foods, new combinations, but also
foods that long ago fell out of favor. How much fun would that be? I asked the agricultural economists, Jason Luskin. Doubtless if we had a three day, printer and lets say had just will be conserved of a hundred buttons of different food said it could make me does Anyone press the mutton button was one great things about our food system. Is that it's a food system, yes makes food affordable. That also has a whole awful lotta choice for people who are willing to pay a bet, there's probably at least one or two people out there that push that mutton button. I also asked lust for his economic views on the future of meat, especially the sort of projects to invent. like make Selden and Pat Brown and working on you know, as I have no problem with white hair, Brown trying to do there, and indeed, I think, is very exciting this technology, and I think you know
Ultimately, it will come down to whether this lab grown meat can come he's on the merit. So there is no free lunch here, in fact that impossible, Berger I've seen it on menus. It's almost always higher price than the traditional B Berger now as an economist. I look at that and save those prices. To me should be signalling something about resource use may be imperfect, maybe there's some externalities, but they should. Liked all the resources that were used to go in to produce a product is one of the reasons that beef is more expensive than say checking. It takes more time more inputs to get produce a pound of beef in a pound of chicken. So why is it that possible Berger is more expensive than the regular burger. Now it could. This is just a start up and are not working at scale. Was they really Scala, saying up at a really bring the price down? Could be there also marketing to a particular higher income? Consumer is willing to pay a little more by think. You know
The claims about the impossible burger are truth overtime. One would expect these products to come. significantly in price and be much less expensive. The beef production- and this is not make my be friends happy, but if they can do that, good for him and consumers want to pay for this, probably like the way it tastes and it saves the money which means the savings to resources. I think, in that sense it's a great technology whether or not you eat meat, whether or not your interest in eating bees, alternative meets from plant matter or animal stem cells. It's hard to now it mire the creativity. The someone like Pat Brown, has exercised the deep curiosity, the ability to come back from failure, the sheer cleverness of putting too their desperate ideas into a coherent scientific plan. So coming next time, Unfrequent, I'm radio. We get back to our series on creativity. We ask scientists, art
in others. Where do those ideas come from Sometimes they come out of nowhere. You think, and then it turns out that they came from the future so the question was: are their power in the universe are their features. Is there some geometry? Inspiration is for amateurs, it was just show up and get to work how to be creative ideas generation its next time and for economics, radio, for economics radios produced by sticker in W productions, this episode was produced by Zack Levinsky. Our staff also includes listen Craig Low, Gregg Ribbon and Harry Huggins. We had help this week from Nellie Osborne. Our theme song is MR fortune by hitchhikers. All the other music was composed by the scare you can.
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Transcript generated on 2021-01-19.