Shrinking amounts of arable land, ravenous meat consumption, and too many damn people may put China’s food supply on life support, forcing officials to scramble for solutions. One of those potential solutions is lab-grown meat. Quartz reports:
The country’s agriculture and food supply chains are difficult to regulate, stretching across 200 million small farms and almost half a million food processing companies, with few financial resources to maintain safety standards. Lab-cultivated meat and eggs like Hampton Creek’s could also help protect against viruses like avian flu that have cropped up because of close human contact with live poultry in cities. China’s on-and-off food scandals have eroded consumer trust and hit firms hoping to cater to them, like Yum Brands, whose KFC chain is still struggling to win back Chinese eaters after reports of excessive antibiotics.
The UK and the Chinese government have launched synthetic biology research exchanges and Chinese biotech firm BGI now runs the world’s largest pig cloning center.
BGI currently clones around 500 pigs a year. Combine this with the fact that last month, a Yunnan farm was the first in the world to clone pigs via asexual reproduction, and lab-grown pork could become a very real possibility.
That is, if the Chinese populous accepts it, which, judging by their reception of GMOS, we’re not so sure.
Far more terrifying, but (sigh) perhaps necessary, is the push for more plant-based meat products. Recently, Asia’s wealthiest man, Li Ka-Shing, announced that he’d helped make a $23 million investment in a Silicon Valley company that produces plant-based egg substitutes and eggless mayonnaise. Says Li, “everyone wants a clean and sustainable world.”
We’re not so sure if everyone wants to eat suckling pig made from tofu and hemp seed skins, but we digress.