A Singaporean company created special Siu-mai (Chinese Prawn Dumpling) going for SGD$5,000 for only 8 pieces. As much as I love the prawn-filled dimsum (Cantonese side dish), I would not want to pay SGD$5,000 when other brands of Siu-Mai are available at supermarkets for under SGD$5. So why are these Sui-Mai so expensive? What makes them different? I’ll get to that in a while.
Hello friends! Welcome back! 😊 Remember my first post mentioning Bill Gates and his personal pick of technologies? If not, you can read it here! In that list, he brought up an interesting technology – lab grown meat.
First, let’s address the environmental crisis that arises from our agricultural practices. While essential for humanity, the agriculture industry creates huge impacts on the environment.
I learnt during ENV1101 lectures that 66% of the potent greenhouse gas Nitrous Oxide (NO₂) emitted as a result of human practices comes from the agricultural sector. Being much more potent than Carbon Dioxide (CO₂), NO₂ contributes greatly to global warming.
I also learnt that agriculture is one of the main reasons for deforestation. Other than causing the Earth to lose forests which are carbon sinks, deforestation also leads to soil erosion, contaminating nearby water bodies. Along with soil degradation, there is now reduced arable land available for agriculture.
Especially considering the growing human population, which is projected to reach 10 billion in the next few decades, I believe that there is an urgent need to consider more sustainable food sources that can cater to the growing population while minimising damage to the environment.
Thus, presenting lab-grown meat.
While it is still in development, lab-grown meat has the potential to become a more environmentally friendly alternative than conventional meat as it is suggested to release fewer greenhouse gasses. A common method to manufacture lab-grown meat is to take animal stem cells and grow them in a nutrient-rich solution. This method is more animal friendly, as no animals need to be slaughtered to obtain the meat. Although some have reservations that this new technology will be able to reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture, many others see potential in it; investment in this industry totalled to almost SGD$100 million by 2018.
Remember the pricey Siu-Mai I mentioned earlier? It was created by Singaporean based company Shiok Eats during their development stage to make lab-grown shrimps. After working on this project for a few years, they have successfully brought down the cost of lab-grown shrimp and are looking to be able to put their product onto the market within the next few years! Check out this short video on Shiok Eats!
Such technologies make me optimistic that in the future, greener food alternatives will be available for consumption. Till then, there are ways that we can reduce our carbon footprint from food, by reducing our meat intake (like me) or going completely vegetarian or vegan – just like my BES coursemate Yanna! Check out her blog on veganism here!