Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said rich countries like the United States should move to “synthetic beef” to address the global protein problem.
The co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and chair of the investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures made the comment during a discussion about his new book “How To Avoid a Climate Disaster,” Technology Review reported.
The book discusses how technology can be used to slash emissions in “hard to solve” sectors like agriculture.
“In terms of livestock, it’s very difficult. There are all the things where they feed them different food, like there’s this one compound that gives you a 20 percent reduction [in methane emissions],” Gates said.
“But sadly, those bacteria [in their digestive system that produce methane] are a necessary part of breaking down the grass.”
He added, “And so I don’t know if there’ll be some natural approach there. I’m afraid the synthetic [protein alternatives like plant-based burgers] will be required for at least the beef thing.”
The Food and Agricultural Organization predicted a global shortage of protein-rich foods worldwide in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which could exacerbate health problems.
Gates said in rich countries, synthetic meat could be the solution.
“For Africa and other poor countries, we’ll have to use animal genetics to dramatically raise the amount of beef per emissions for them,” Gates said.
“Weirdly, the US livestock, because they’re so productive, the emissions per pound of beef are dramatically less than emissions per pound in Africa.”
He added, “So no, I don’t think the poorest 80 countries will be eating synthetic meat. I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic meat.”
Gates said, “you can get used to the taste difference” and companies say they are going to make the synthetic meat taste even better.
“Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand,” he said.
“So for meat in the middle-income-and-above countries, I do think it’s possible.”
Gates said his Breakthrough Energy fund has four different investments in the synthetic meat space to make ingredients more efficient.
Impossible and Beyond also have a “quality road map and a cost road map” that will make them competitive, according to Gates.
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