Two years ago, chicken meat was bred on a spinach leave at Kopernik Science Center. Molecular biologist Stanisław Łoboziak achieved this success in just three weeks (far less than an average time of breeding a chicken). The perspective of producing meat in the laboratory is extremely optimistic. Does this mean that we will all switch to plant-based nutrition in the future?
October of 2019 is a memorable month for all of the Poles endorsing the cruelty-free movement. Exactly two years ago, chicken was bred in the Kopernik Science Center… on a leaf of spinach. Stanisław Łoboziak, a molecular biologist, achieved this success in no more than three weeks, which proved that it is possible to obtain foods with the nutritional value of white meat under laboratory conditions. Although the taste qualities are different from those we associate with poultry, it is still worth noting that science is opening up more and more opportunities for people whose dietes are mainly plant-based. Who knows, perhaps in the nearest future the latest developments will also bring the carnivores to the bright side of power?
The course of the experiment
For the experiment, the scientist used cellulose spinach leaf skeleton and muscle cells from chickens. Quite a lot – 2 million (each of them was smaller than a pinhead). The experiment consisted of extracting cells from animals. Subsequently, cell division was stimulated to obtain muscle fibers. Meat breeding under laboratory conditions is not only more environmentally friendly (global greenhouse gases equivalent to 7.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year, of which 1. 3 gigatonnes are poultry and pigs, equivalent to about 18%) but can also reduce the need of the population for slaughter as muscle cell production does not require killing. With this discovery, Stanisław Łoboziak confirms that an optimistic future scenario regarding problems related to the elimination or reduction of animal suffering is possible.
An optimistic future?
According to the UN: The world’s population, which numbered around 7.8 billion in 2020, has been growing rapidly and is expected to continue to grow in the coming decades, albeit at a progressively slower pace. Projections by the United Nations suggest that the size of the global population could rise to almost 11 billion by the end of the twenty-first century.
But what all of those things mentioned mean? The possibility of producing meat in the laboratory is very forward-looking, considering that the birth rate is still positive. As Robert Firmhofer, current head of the Kopernik Science Center said while the experiment turned out to be successful: In 15 to 20 years it will be very, very difficult for us to feed all the people who are likely to live on Earth. We need to look for other innovative methods of nutrition that require not only an understanding of the current achievements of biotechnology, but also to overcome myths, superstitions and attitudes. Will so-called test tube meat conquer the world market? Or will it lead to the negative development of International Corporations which will sell low-quality, harmful products to the average consumer, who sometimes may lack knowledge in this subject?
- Report of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations titled Greenhouse gas emissions from pig and chicken supply chains. A global life cycle assessment. – E-ISBN 978-92-5-107944-7
- Publication of UN titled Global Population Growth and Sustainable Development – ISBN: 978-92-1-1483505; eISBN: 978-92-1- 005246-7
- Article in Science in Poland written by Ludwika Tomala – https://scienceinpoland.pap.pl/aktualnosci/news%2C78864%2Cw-koperniku-mieso-kurczaka-wyhodowano-na-lisciach-szpinaku.html