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Grow-your-own steak: seeking a cure for the planet’s meat addiction – Audio Long Reads

Every year, 70 billion animals are slaughtered at an enormous environmental cost. How close are we to a high-tech alternative?

By Jenny Kleeman and Emma Haslett

Even the most ardent carnivore might struggle to argue that meat is a force for good. The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gases than the exhaust from every form of transport on the planet combined. And while doctors try to curb antibiotic prescription, 80 per cent of antibiotics used in the US are administered to healthy animals to minimise infections on crammed farms. Industrial animal farming is also a major cause of deforestation, water waste, water pollution, eutrophication and diseases.

One solution, of course, is to stop eating meat. Another, posited by scientists and entrepreneurs in the US and UK, is to start growing it. In this magazine long read, reporter Jenny Kleeman (author of Sex Robots and Vegan Meat) looks at two start-ups – a shiny Silicon Valley facility and a “farm” on an Oxford industrial estate – which aim to do just that: multiplying stem cells in bioreactors, creating in-vitro chicken nuggets, burgers and steaks. For now, it is an expensive and time- and energy-consuming process – but some have predicted the global market for such products will reach $250bn by 2030. Is there demand, and how much do humans need meat, anyway?

Written by Jenny Kleeman and read by Emma Haslett.

This article originally appeared in the 22-28 April 2022 issue of the New Statesman, and on newstatesman.com on 20 April. You can read the text version here.

If you enjoyed this, you might want to listen to “The psychiatrists who don’t believe in mental illness” by Sophie McBain

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