Lab-Grown Meat: Challenges and Opportunities for a Sustainable and Ethical Food System

Russell Kidson
Mar 25, 2023
Updated • Mar 24, 2023

The United States is moving closer to allowing the sale of lab-grown meat made from animal cells, including chicken. Good Meat, the company behind this innovative chicken product, made an announcement on Tuesday regarding its receipt of a 'no questions' letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This letter confirms that the FDA has reviewed and approved the safety of the product for sale in the US. Another company, Upside Foods, received a similar letter from the FDA in November for their meat made from cultured chicken cells.

While receiving the 'no questions' letter from the FDA is a significant milestone, it is important to note that consumers will not be able to purchase lab-grown meat products just yet. Good Meat and Upside Foods must still obtain approval from the US Department of Agriculture before their products can be sold to the public.

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Good Meat acknowledged the significance of receiving the 'no questions' letter from the FDA, stating that it is a crucial step towards making their product available to restaurants and retailers in the US. The company also mentioned in a statement on Tuesday that they are currently collaborating with the US Department of Agriculture to obtain the necessary approvals for their lab-grown meat product to be sold to consumers.

Good Meat promotes its product as 'meat without slaughter,' which offers a more ethical and humane approach to consuming meat. Supporters of lab-grown meat believe that it has the potential to help combat climate change by decreasing the reliance on traditional animal agriculture, which is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Cultivated or lab-grown meat is produced in a vat, similar to the ones used in beer breweries.

Good Meat has announced that once their product receives USDA approval, chef and board member José Andrés will introduce the lab-grown meat at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. At this time, there is no specific timeline for when USDA approval will be granted to either Good Meat or Upside Foods. However, internationally, the approval process is moving at a quicker pace. 

Good Meat's cell-based chicken was approved for sale in Singapore in 2020, and has already been available at various restaurants in that country. Josh Tetrick, CEO of both Good Meat and Eat Just, stated in an email to CNN that it is exciting to bring the concept of 'chicken without slaughter' to the United States, especially after two years of success in Singapore.

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An examination of lab-grown meat

Lab-grown meat, which is also referred to as cultured or cell-based meat, is a cutting-edge food technology that involves producing meat by cultivating animal cells, rather than relying on traditional livestock farming methods. While this approach offers numerous benefits in terms of environmental sustainability, ethical considerations, and potential health advantages, there are also some challenges and drawbacks that need to be addressed and discussed.

The benefits of lab-grown meat

Below we’ll outline the benefits of lab-grown meat. 

Environmental sustainability

One of the significant benefits of lab-grown meat is its positive impact on environmental sustainability. This innovative technology reduces the environmental impact of traditional livestock farming by consuming fewer natural resources such as land and water, and generating lower greenhouse gas emissions. Adopting lab-grown meat can help mitigate the harmful effects of livestock farming on climate change, deforestation, and biodiversity loss, making it a promising solution for promoting sustainability.

Ethical considerations

Animal welfare is a significant ethical concern associated with traditional meat production. Lab-grown meat offers a solution to this concern by eliminating the need for raising and slaughtering animals, thereby providing an alternative for consumers who seek cruelty-free options. This technology offers a promising solution for those who prioritize animal welfare and wish to reduce their consumption of animal products while still enjoying the taste and texture of meat.

Health benefits

Cultured meat has the potential to offer a healthier nutritional profile compared to traditional meat products, with options for reduced saturated fat content or increased beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, it can help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses, as it is produced in a controlled, sterile environment that minimizes the risk of contamination by pathogens. These benefits make lab-grown meat a promising option for consumers who prioritize their health and safety.

The drawbacks associated with lab-grown meat

The following are a few drawbacks that industries will need to address before lab-grown meat makes it into mainstream culture. 

Cost and scalability

As a relatively new technology, lab-grown meat is still expensive to produce, which may limit its accessibility and widespread adoption. Although costs are expected to decrease as the technology advances, significant investments in research and development are required to achieve economies of scale. 

This will require a considerable amount of time and resources, and it may take some time before lab-grown meat becomes more affordable and accessible to the average consumer. However, as the technology continues to improve and production costs decrease, it has the potential to become a viable alternative to traditional meat products.

Consumer acceptance

Despite its numerous benefits, some consumers may be hesitant to embrace lab-grown meat due to concerns about its taste, texture, and perceived 'unnaturalness.' Public education and awareness campaigns will be essential to overcome these barriers and build consumer trust. By providing information about the safety, sustainability, and potential health benefits of lab-grown meat, consumers can make informed decisions and feel more comfortable trying this innovative food technology.

It will be crucial to engage with consumers, address their concerns, and provide transparent information about how lab-grown meat is produced, so they can make informed decisions about its suitability for their dietary preferences and ethical values.

Regulatory hurdles

The regulatory frameworks for lab-grown meat are still evolving, and the lack of clear guidelines may slow down its development and market entry. Ensuring that the product meets safety, labeling, and quality standards across different countries could be challenging and time-consuming. The development of clear regulations and guidelines for lab-grown meat will be essential to ensure its safety and marketability. 

This will require collaboration between industry stakeholders, policymakers, and regulatory agencies to establish consistent standards that can be applied across different regions and countries. To promote global acceptance and adoption of lab-grown meat, it is crucial to develop regulatory frameworks that foster innovation while also ensuring that the product meets all necessary safety and quality standards.

Lab grown meat is either the future or a niche blemish on society’s history

Lab-grown meat has the potential to offer a promising alternative to traditional meat production by reducing its environmental impact, addressing animal welfare concerns, and offering health benefits. However, there are significant challenges that need to be addressed for it to become a widely adopted and viable option. These challenges include cost, consumer acceptance, and regulatory hurdles. 

As the technology continues to advance, the balance between benefits and drawbacks will likely shift, potentially paving the way for a more sustainable and ethical food system. The continued development and promotion of lab-grown meat will require collaboration between industry, policymakers, and consumers to overcome these challenges and promote a more sustainable and ethical food system.


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  1. Tom Hawack said on March 26, 2023 at 5:51 pm

    Meat is not needed and possibly not recommended… given the change is not to consider fruits and vegetables only as the alternative, but whole grains, oleaginous fruits and when it comes to cooking that it be done respectfully (don’t cook vegetables in boiling water which will remove many vitamins and micro-nutrients.

    But if you carry on with meat, eat less and better. I know the matter, eat meat occasionally because I like it (atavism perhaps) and because, although brought up as a vegetarian, I happened to eat meat because parents wanted me “to be able to make my own choice later on after having avoided the consequences of sectarianism”). I know all about it, or quite a lot . We were then very concerned by a French nutritionist called Henri-Charles Geffroy and a healthy food distribution company called “la Vie Claire” (find out more on the Web). When other kids were ill, i was not, when other kids had problems in scholl and violent in society, I was not. Vegetarianism is more than avoiding the consumption of meat, it’s a different paradigm, another way of conceiving life.

  2. Kalmly said on March 26, 2023 at 5:14 pm

    Soylent beef. Soylent chicken. Soylent green.

  3. The Protein Bank said on March 26, 2023 at 3:50 pm

    The serum used to create these genetically modified protein products is often obtained from the blood of a dead calf. The commercial lab-grown product advertised is misleading, and not slaughter free.

    Using this technology, unfortunately will also reduce the number of happy animals in the world. 🐮

    Furthermore, how does the link text (placed directly after the second paragraph in the article): “Related: Uber deploys redesigned app with iPhone features” written by Shaun, not Russell, relate to this article in any shape or form? :-/

  4. Robert said on March 25, 2023 at 11:41 pm

    Hopefully they will be forced to let unsuspecting customers know if they are going to be eating genetically modified franken-burgers and steaks. I can see the prices for these meats will be cheap. I can also foresee new diseases and sicknesses happening at an alarming rate. The poor will be fed artificial meat while the rich will eat grass fed beef. I myself already quit eating at restaurants because you don’t really know what they are putting into the food as it is anyway so it’s not going to affect me.

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