Cultivated meat company Aleph Farms released a white paper, “An Inclusive Solution Towards the Transition to a Sustainable and Resilient Meat Sector,” on the importance of balancing meat sector transformation with respect for tradition.
“Our global food system was established at the start of the 20th century, when there were 1.6 billion people on the planet. It is not suitable for feeding the world population of today and certainly not that of the future,” write Aleph Farms CEO Didier Toubia and Head of Sustainability Lee Recht.
While meat plays a significant and valuable role in diets and cultures across the globe, current industry practices have “created a cascade of environmental issues,” according to Toubia and Recht. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted a lack of resilience in the global supply chain and the danger of zoonotic disease transmission.
Given the complexity of the problems facing the meat sector, the white paper focuses on a system-based approach. According to Toubia and Recht, key strategies for meat sector solutions include responsible meat consumption, sustainable agriculture practices, and innovation to complement these practices while meeting the growing demand for food.
The authors outline the need for two types of innovation: incremental and transformational. While incremental innovations focus on improving efficiency within the existing sustainable agriculture industry, transformational innovations offer solutions outside of the boundaries of the current industry practices.
Toubia and Recht find that technologies such as cultivated meat should exist alongside traditional and sustainable agriculture, rather than in competition: “Such transformational innovation should co-exist and complement the production capacity of sustainable livestock farming methods to meet the growing market demand for meat.”
The white paper offers four key pillars of sustainability as a guiding framework for resilient food systems: prioritize environmental conservation; provide access to food that satisfies the sociocultural needs of all; promote and advance human health and wellbeing; and ensure economic viability with affordable products and traceable supply chains.
“Food systems touch all people,” Toubia and Recht write, highlighting the need for inclusive, multi-stakeholder conversations surrounding food system change. All eaters—from food suppliers to policymakers to consumers—have an important role to play in creating a resilient meat ecosystem.
Photo courtesy of Stijn te Strake, Unsplash