We are looking for a way to negotiate with the cells. I don’t intend to make meat of a person, but I don’t condemn its potential producers, says the young scientist

You will come to the store and in addition to the classic meat, you may find in the near future cultured meat. It will be more ethical, greener than usual, but taste and structure indistinguishable from original“. A young scientist, Jiří Janoušek, who studies full-time at Charles University and leads the company’s team, is involved in its production. Bene Meat Technologies. According to him and his colleagues, it is realistic to see cultured meat on the shelves within five years.

Jiří and I talked about what the whole cultured meat production process looks likeif vegetarians can eat it with a clear conscience and if they are not afraid that in the future technology cultivation of human flesh. We also discussed the effects of cultured meat on the environment compared to what is common and the current cost of a cultured steak.

If I have the right information, you are a carnivore, you perceive meat as a pleasure. Nevertheless, you are working on a cultured meat development project. Why do you do that?I must say that I also perceive an ethical dimension in the area of ​​meat consumption, but that certain animals behave for meat and then are slaughtered, I consider that this is a process that also takes place in nature. If the animal does not suffer during the breeding and the whole process, I do not take it as something bad. However, this condition is not always met.

But the two most important aspects for me are ecological and economical. From an ecological point of view, I look at the relatively unprecedented growth in demand for beef in particular, which is linked to the wealth of third world countries where meat is a prestigious food and as people get richer , they want more and more meat. In addition, there is a growing population, due to which the demand for meat is increasing globally. However, meat production capacities are limited.

How limited?Perhaps purely flat. In our conditions, we do not have much of the remaining area that could be cultivated profitably, and at present, moreover, the amount of cultivated area in the Czech Republic is declining. Of course, this also affects the higher efficiency of farming, but we are entering a situation where farming has reached the physical ceilings, where there is no room to grow. Agricultural mechanization, fertilizers or genetic modification and advances in animal husbandry began to be used. Now we are only limited by physical things. More light is needed for the wheat to grow more, but the sun still shines at the same intensity.

Moreover, everything here is either a city or an agricultural landscape. So most of our landscape is agricultural, which may not be the case in third-light countries where there is pressure to take more land. And agriculture in tropical countries is not as sustainable as in our country. In the Amazon, for example, the land is poor and agriculture will be exhausted in five years. If we want any remnants of wildlife on the planet, some changes are needed.

I understand. So what is the economic aspect that drives you to get involved in meat farming?It is also related to ecology. Recently, we have seen strong pressure for some greening of the economy. We have a carbon tax and conventional meat is a major greenhouse gas producer. If we want to free ourselves from morality, normal meat may no longer be profitable. There are already proposals for a tax on meat, which would displace the economic aspect at the expense of standard production. It still comes to mind that there is also a health aspect.

One of the problems with conventional metals is that they require the use of various drugs, such as antibiotics. When these substances enter the environment, they have no good to do there and we are not able to control their release into the environment. It can also affect our health system, as resistant bacterial strains form on farms. That’s why I think it makes sense to develop cultured meat.

Now let’s move on to the client level. A year ago, your colleague Kateřina Marešová said in an interview with DVTV that we would buy meat grown in a store within five years. So will we see an artificial steak soon?In general, I don’t like to make predictions. Also note that my colleague Marešová said it was real, not that it would be. In the past, I’ve seen bombastic statements from competitors that Cultured Meat will be in 2021 or 2022, and so far there’s silence in the way. These are statements designed to attract investors.

But back to the question. Yes, if everything goes optimally, the technology can really be developed in five years.

Source: Courtesy of Jiří Janoušek

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