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The Benefits and Risks of Lab Grown Meat, Poultry, and Seafood

Updated: Jul 5, 2023


You may have heard of lab grown food a new industry for created meat, poultry and seafood. You might have reacted with horror or fear because you do not know much about it.


Some people are calling it the food of the future and a way to save the planet. Other people think it is a group of mad scientists trying to control the food system.


This new industry if regulated may be another way to produces safe food to eat for consumers. We hope the goal is not to replace farming. The should be room for both farming and lab grown food in the future.


Farm animals are not really the cause of pollution it is the way they are raised by industrial farms. Some farm animals are caged or confined in small spaces, given growth hormones to make them grow faster, fed junk food, and not killed humanely. The way they are raised has caused environmental pollution using the chemicals, transportation and products that companies have produced for industrial farming.


How Are Meat, Chicken and Fish Grown In A Lab?



Lab Grown Meats


In might seem like a science fiction movie or book when you realize lab grown food is here. It starts with a live biopsy taken from a live animal. The stem cells are separated from the muscle cells. The stem cells are grown in solution in the lab that provided them with nutrients they need to grow. The stem cells grow muscle and fat eventually becoming meat. The cells are taken from cows, sheep, goats, and pigs.



Lab Grown Meat: St. Annes College Middle Common Room


The animal is place under sedation and the muscle cells are retrieved using a needle or surgical instrument. The cells are place in growth solution until they multiply. Some are later placed in water where they contract and grow into smaller strand or sheets. These strands are shaped into meat that is sold to consumers.


Advantages


Lab grown meat is grown in a controlled environment and protects the meat from bacteria and contamination. There are no organs and intestines to remove that sometimes become contaminated and cause illness. They do not use growth hormones


Animals grown on industrial farms confined in small spaces often come down with infections and illness. In labs they can control the fat content and nutritional requirements. They lab staff adds vitamins, nutrients and removes fat from the lab grown meat. The farm animals do not suffer with being mistreated and slaughtered.


Disadvantages


If they use chemicals to grow the meat it can be toxic. In some labs fetal bovine serum from dead calves and cows is used to grow the meat. This serum is expensive and the side effects are not known. It is used in vaccines for viruses and many companies want to replace it with a chemical or synthetic solution. But what will be in this synthetic solution? You should want to know what goes into It.


The bovine serum used might be contaminated from bacteria taken from the calf or cow. The cells taken from the animal can be contaminated and cause cancer or other diseases..


Another problem is that lab grown meat can be expensive to produce and not economical. If the meat is grown in plastic containers or packaged in them it can be contaminated because of endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are hormones that interfere or block your body's hormones. They can cause tumors, birth defects and other disorders.


The bottom line is that how this lab grown meat is produced will determine whether it is safe or not. It can be an alternative but should not replace traditional and organic farming. We all hope that those wealthy people buying up farmland want to improve farming and create new opportunities for farmers to grow crops and farm animals in a safe and healthy way.



Lab Grown Chicken



Chicken Animation: Giphy



Lab grown chicken is grown from cells taken from a chicken, fertilized eggs, or cells that are stored by the lab. They are cultivated in steel tanks using a solutions the promotes growth. The muscles and meat is shaped into cutlets, nuggets, and shredded meats. Companies that sell this product had to be cleared by the FDA to sell chicken in the United States.


Cells are taken from live chicken or fertilized eggs and put in a solution with amino acids, sugar, salt, vitamins and other ingredients. The cells grow quickly in the tanks. Muscle and connective tissue grow forming large sheet of chicken meat. After three weeks they are removed and made into cutlets, sausage, or nuggets. Singapore was one of the first countries to allow sales of cultivated meat and chicken.


Pros and Cons


Lab grown chicken is a safer and does not develop bacteria and contamination from slaughtering, However the cells grown may be contaminated or carry disease that can be transmitted to humans. They do not use growth hormones .


Some consumers and dietitians say the chicken has no nutritional value or taste. This may be a matter of personal taste. However the companies are working on adding nutrition to the product to make it healthier. Overall it may be another way to feed people in addition to traditional farming. You cannot produce chicken legs, thighs, and whole chickens with bones in a lab.



Lab Grown Fish


Traditional Salmon: Wikipedia



The production of lab grown fish requires removing cells from fish, shellfish, and crustaceans'. The remove the muscle cells and grow them in bioreactor. The lab isolate the cells from fish tissue. These cells are similar to adult stem cells.


The cells are grown in lab in a solutions and moved to bioreactor with nutrients added. Lab grown fish is free of environmental pollution, fetal bovine serum, and antibiotics. Fish is shaped into nuggets, filets, or fish sticks. Some companies are working on salmon, shrimp, and vegan based products.


Pros:


The lakes, rivers and oceans have been depleted. You might say this is a way to restock the depleted supply. Some fish may become extinct if we continue with traditional fishing and this may be a solutions to the problem. We may be able to supply the demand for seafood with this new venture. Seafood is a good source of protein, vitamins and essential nutrients.


Cons


Growing fish is a lab is very expensive may not be able to meet demand. It may not replace the variety and taste of wild caught or farm raised fish. Some professionals question whether it will add anything to our conservation and sustainability efforts. Yet it may still be another way to provide food the world population. You should learn about it and lobby for safe food for you and your family.




Animation Source: Giphy


References:


The First Lab Grown Seafood Will Be Fancy, by Kenney Torella, Vox, December 2022


US Approves Chicken Made From Cultivated Cells The Nations First Lab Grown Meat, NBC New by Associated Press, June 2023


Lab Cultured Seafood Is Coming, by Emma Bryce, Anthropocene Magazine, April 2021


Pros and Cons of Lab Grown Meat, by Danielle Duffy, Osecia November 14, 2021


Is Lab Grown Meat Healthy, by Aakanksha Singh BSD, News Medical Life Sciences, March 2022


Lab Grown Meat What Is It and What Is it Made Of Is It Healthy? Farm Forward, April 27, 2023





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