Is The Solution To Global Overfishing Cultured Meat?


More than three billion fish and more than 43 billion shellfish have already been killed for food in the US this year due to overfishing. That seems like an incredibly large amount now, but that is only the beginning. According to estimates from around the world, up to 2.7 trillion wild fish are taken and murdered annually. It can go up to 167 billion for farmed fish.

This practice is not only cruel—research shows that fish experience pain and suffering—but it is also unsustainable. According to WWF, overfishing, which occurs when people fish more quickly than the population can handle, is to blame for the reduction in marine life. A world with fewer fish is not just depressing, but also hazardous.

By removing pollutants from the water, marine animals contribute to the health of the seas. For instance, we are well aware that hazardous algal blooms are caused by overfishing. Sea lions, narwhals, beluga whales, marsh crocodiles, and emperor penguins are just a few examples of piscivores, or creatures that rely primarily on fish as a food source. Fish are also an essential component of ecosystems.

But we don’t have to live in a world where the oceans are continually in trouble. Recent advancements in food science pose a threat to permanently alter our eating habits.

Innovative fish food

German-based Bluu Seafood, a provider of food technology, has introduced two items: fish sticks and fish balls. Nothing out of the usual thus far. However, even though they resemble typical Birds Eye creations, the fish at Bluu Seafood were really raised in a lab.

Bluu Seafood begins the process by using cells from a real animal, just like the rest of the cultured meat sector. This only occurs once. The fish cells are then multiplied and fed nutrients in a bioreactor before being grown in “scaffolding” that resembles fish. The end product is meat that resembles meat from conventional fish in both appearance and flavor, but without the widespread killing.

Bluu Seafood isn’t the only one.

A deal was inked in January of this year by the California-based cultured seafood company BlueNalu and the international operator of sushi restaurants Food & Life Companies to develop toro, the belly of bluefin tuna used in sushi. Shiok Meats is likewise mostly focused on seafood in Singapore. In 2020, it introduced the first cultured lobster meat.

However, Bluu Seafood is the first to introduce its products in Europe, where regulatory permission for cultured meat is still awaiting, after only two years of operation.

“We can demonstrate visible and edible results after less than two years of being operational… We are now working closely with regulatory authorities to clear the way for market launch and focus on scaling,” said founder Dr. Sebastian Rakers.

Remedy or fallacy?

It seems like the ideal answer. in particular to the trillions of fish slaughtered annually. But could laboratory-produced fish cells ever fully replace the real thing? Others are dubious.

For instance, Pat Brown, the man behind the successful plant-based meat company Impossible Foods, thinks the entire cultured meat industry is not a financially feasible way to address the issues with the food system. He previously stated that he thought the entire industry was a “complete fallacy.”

 “That industry has been saying, ‘we’re going to be on the grocery shelves next year for the past 10 years and it is as far away as ever,” he added.

It’s true that the cultured meat sector is still young and has faced a number of challenges. The first cultured burger didn’t appear until 2013 and it cost $330,000 to produce. But in a little more than a decade, the cost has decreased significantly. Currently, the price of a cultured meat burger is just around $10.

Companies are also demonstrating the scalability of this technology. Eat Just, a company that sells vegan eggs and also has a section for cultured meat, agreed to create the largest cultured meat bioreactors ever earlier this year. The massive vats, which will span four floors, can make up to 30 million pounds of cultured beef.

Plant-based fish

Given his position, it may not be surprising that Brown supports the plant-based alternative market as the necessary transformation in the food sector.

Additionally, there has been advancement. Vegan fish-like goods are produced by companies like Loma Linda, Future Foods, Quorn, Good Catch, Sophie’s Kitchen, and Gardein using solely plants. According to reports, Impossible Foods has been developing plant-based fish for a long.

According to some projections, the global market for seafood made from plants could reach more than $1.3 billion in the coming ten years.

One thing is for certain, though: change is desperately needed. It doesn’t matter if we get there using plant-based protein or actual fish cells. Everything (including everyone) that lives in the waters depends on it.

Source: “Why Cultured Meat Could Be The Answer To The Global Overfishing Crisis” by Plant Based News

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