Corporations and their powerful backers assure the public that fake meat is a silver bullet that will reduce environmental harm and end hunger, but this is a falsely simple solution to a complex problem, according to a report by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems.
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The 104-page report examines in detail Big Food’s claims about the sustainability of “alternative proteins” — lab-created meat and fish products, plant-based substitutes, and dairy and egg alternatives.
Proponents of alternative proteins assure the public fake meat is a silver bullet that will reduce environmental harm and end hunger.
But this is a falsely simple solution to a truly complex problem, according to the report.
In fact, artificial food will only create more problems, according to the report’s lead author, Philip H. Howard, Ph.D.:
“It’s easy to see why people would be drawn to the marketing and hype, but meat techno-fixes will not save the planet. In many cases, they will make the problems with our industrial food system worse — fossil-fuel dependence, industrial monocultures, pollution, poor work conditions, unhealthy diets, and control by massive corporations.
“Just as electric cars are not a silver bullet to fix climate change, these solutions are not going to fix our damaging industrial food system. We need to change the system — not the product.”
Howard is is a faculty member at Michigan State University, a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems and the author of the 2016 book, “Concentration and Power in the Food System.”
He told Civil Eats that artificial alternatives to natural foods are becoming widely available and promoted as “healthy:”
“Products such as the Impossible Burger, with its 80-plus ingredients, are now in supermarkets and fast food establishments worldwide. Lab-grown chicken has been on the market in Singapore since late 2020, and will likely soon be approved in the U.S. and elsewhere. These products are being sold as a ‘win-win-win’ for animals, people, and the planet.”