Gradual conversion of 20% of world beef and lamb consumption into so-called ‘microbial’ proteins will halve CO2 emissions and deforestation linked to agriculture by 2050.
Replacing red meat consumption by half with microbial protein grown in stainless steel tanks will reduce food loss by more than 80%, according to current population growth and food demand forecasts. Nature Magazine.
“With relatively small meat consumption, greenhouse gas emissions can be drastically reduced from deforestation,” said Florian Humbenoder, a researcher at the Institute for Climate Change Impact (PIK) in Potsdam.
“This is a key contribution to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement,” he said.
Beef industry and burping
Three major climate reports released by the UN since August show that the basic purpose of the speech, which is to control global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, is under serious threat.
The World Food Program accounts for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, and beef production is a major contributor to the agricultural sector.
The livestock industry contributes in two ways: on the one hand, it leads to the destruction of tropical forests (otherwise it absorbs C02), and allows for grazing and livestock feeding crops (soy, etc.).
On the other hand, greenhouse gases, which are 30 times more potent than CO2 at 100 years, mainly through purging, are an important source of methane.
Low cultivated area
Other types of meat substitutes, especially vegetables, are already on the shelves of supermarkets. But as the world finds climate solutions, these ‘new foods’ and others will, according to market forecasts, become a major industry in the coming decades.
Food derived from the culture of microbial or fungal cells undergoes a fermentation process, such as wine or beer. Cells eat glucose – from sugarcane or beets, for example – to produce protein, which requires cultivated land for production. But much less than red meat, the study says.
Assuming that current farming practices and consumption patterns continue over the next 30 years, the global area of grazing land will increase by nearly one million square kilometers. However, if 20% of this meat is replaced by microbial protein, the cultivated area will reduce its current size.
Hannah Dumisto, a researcher at the University of Helsinki who has not been involved in the study, says the benefits of protein made from microorganisms or fungi go far beyond climate or environmental impact.
‘Mycoprotein is the best alternative to meat because it is high in protein and contains all the essential amino acids,’ he quoted Nature.
The use of water for agriculture and fertilizers will reduce the emissions of another greenhouse gas and nitrous oxide.
“Governments and the food industry need to work together to create the right standards and thereby gain the trust of the public,” said Dilli Collins, of the Imperial College London.
Meat lovers should see if they can drop their meat as a more succulent alternative than the flavors. According to Humbenoder, only one in six co-authors of the study tasted the microbial meat substitute. ‘He liked it.’