15 December 2020. By AgForce Cattle Board President Will Wilson.

Also published at Queensland Country Life.

The label on the front of the packet of CSIRO-developed lab-grown meat says, “cruelty free, safe, healthy, environmentally friendly.” But I think it’s just about the cruellest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

I read this in the CSIRO’s magazine for kids, DoubleHelix, in an article in their December 2020 edition called: Cultured Meat, the Future of Food?

In it, it stated that “agriculture, especially the meat industry, is a key contributor to climate change.”

This simplistic view from Australia’s leading scientific research body, in a magazine – for kids. Well, if that isn’t propaganda at its finest, I don’t know what it is.

It sure isn’t scientific. It isn’t fact-based. It is a slap in the face of agriculture and puts at risk not only an industry but the lives of families, regions, entire communities that rely on agriculture as well.

The facts are that emissions from cars clogging up city streets stay in the atmosphere far longer than those from cattle do. But imagine the outcry from the automobile industry if the CSIRO started telling children that we shouldn’t be driving cars because they’re destroying our planet. It wouldn’t happen.

Some more facts: last year a study by Oxford Martin School in the UK looked at the long-term climate implications of cultured meat versus meat from cattle and concluded that “because the emissions from the lab are related to the production of energy which is almost entirely made up of carbon dioxide, which persists in the atmosphere for hundreds of years…over the very long term, the manufacture of lab meat can result in more warming.”

The findings went on to say that: “…previous studies had tended to look at the various emissions from cattle and converted them all to their carbon dioxide equivalent, but this doesn't give you the full picture as methane and nitrous oxide have different impacts on the climate.

“Per tonne emitted, methane has a much larger warming impact than carbon dioxide. However (and this is the important part), it only remains in the atmosphere for about 12 years, whereas carbon dioxide persists and accumulates for millennia.”

I’m no scientist, I’m a cattle producer, but the facts are out there, in research papers, not in the opinions of blogs and social media, or the countless dotcom websites that report fiction over facts.

By all means eat lab grown food if you want to, and I’ll wish you well. But please don’t eat it to satisfy a guilty conscience or because you believe cows are the problem.

There is a balance to all things in nature, animal and vegetable. The obsession by some to rid the world of all grazing animals except those that inhabit the wild is a battle to feel good about themselves – to try and undo what humans have been doing for thousands of years: eat meat because we are meat eaters.

If you do your research and listen to the science, not conscience-clearing rhetoric, you’ll find plenty of information out there about that too.