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Comments: Mammoth meatballs hint at a future of exotic lab-grown meats. Reality will be much more boring


The development and deployment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) over the past three decades can give us some important clues as to how those things might play out. Like lab-grown meats, GMOs initially held the promise of creating diverse crops that offer health benefits (like Golden Rice) or consumer benefits (like tomatoes). Flavr Savr).

Very few of these possibilities have been realized. Instead, most of the benefits of GMOs accrue to the agricultural companies that develop and sell the seeds.

Instead of increasing the variety of foods, GMOs have increased the monoculture and decreased the variety of foods. This leads to negative environmental and social consequences for farming communities.

Lab-grown meats face a similar risk. Despite Vow’s mammoth promise, at least in the short term, it’s likely that lab-grown meats will only become economical for consumers when produced at scale.

This suggests that the most likely cultured meats on our menu will not be alligator or dodo, but standardized varieties of beef, chicken or pork. The manufacturing process is also likely to focus on muscle tissue, rather than the organs, feet, bone marrow or other diverse parts of animals that many of us consume.

The most likely outcome of lab-grown meat is not more protein diversity but significantly less.

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