About one year after the installment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Burda's DLD innovation conference in Brussels staged by DLD founder Steffi Czerny started with a wake-up call.
The U.N. estimates that about 15% of greenhouse gases are released by farm animals – first and foremost cows. Is it time to fundamentally change our way of eating? Or are meat alternatives already available? At DLD, the search for new ways to produce food is already a core issue.
With the world’s population predicted to grow to almost 10 billion people by 2050, challenges abound, as food production is already stretching the planet’s resources to the limits. Overfishing is depleting fish stocks, excessive use of pesticides is harming nature, feeding antibiotics to animals raises the risk of creating “superbugs” resistant to medicines that are vital to saving human lives. Reason enough for Burda's innovation and conference platform DLD to keep putting new ways of producing food on the agenda as an important topic.
Things need to change
Breeding animals for human consumption also requires enormous amounts of land, water and plants that are fed to billions of chickens, pigs, and cows. In addition, animal farming is a major contributor to climate change: The U.N. estimates that around 15% of greenhouse gases are released by farm animals – first and foremost cows. Cattle herds produce the equivalent of 5 gigatonnes of CO2 per year. To sustainably feed the world, clearly things need to change. The good news is that there’s no shortage of ideas which researchers and entrepreneurs are pursuing.
Meet the New Meat
Human appetite knows few limits: We snack on nuts, salad and fruits but also eat bread, pasta and rice. Some people try to avoid animal products, of course, but most love to eat yogurt, cheese and meat as well. Particularly meat: steak, lamb chops, chicken wings or sausage are part of the daily menu in many parts of the world. And when people can afford it, they start to eat more and more meat. Worldwide, meat production has increased from 71 million tons in 1961 to almost 320 million tons in 2014. But many people eat meat with a bad conscience. Concerns about animal welfare and environmental damage have intensified the search for meat alternatives that even carnivores can crave.
A pig named Jessie
Two approaches are now leading to results: On the one hand, companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are successfully developing plant-based meat alternatives. The idea is to mimic the taste and texture of meat so convincingly that even diehard hamburger lovers don’t mind actually eating veggies instead of minced meat. The other approach is to grow meat from animal cells under controlled conditions, essentially recreating what nature does organically in a laboratory . At DLD 2019, Brian Spears – CEO and co-founder of New Age Meats – explained how his company turns stem cells taken from a pig named Jessie into sausages
Read more exciting insights from Karsten Lemm about the Future of Food on the DLD news blog.