Cultured meat has the potential to improve public health in many aspects, including a decrease in bacterial resistance, production of reduced fat or nonfat meat, an increase in general hygiene in meat production and prevent pandemics.
One of these aspects has a tremendous worldwide affect, and influences all human beings across the globe. That is epidemics caused by viruses, for example the Influenza virus A. It is a common knowledge within the scientific community that evolution of Influenza viruses (caused especially by antigenic shift but also by antigenic drift) can cause a pandemic. When different strains of Influenza viruses are in contact, they can create a new virus which has undergone a mixture (reassortment), and this new virus is now possibly a pandemic danger.
How can this happen? It can happen if the following conditions occur:
- A unhygienic environment.
- A high density environment of animals (birds and mammals).
- Direct/indirect contact between humans and animals.
Influenza virus A is the most pathogenic virus of its family. While other types of Influenza viruses infect mainly humans alone, Influenza virus A infects birds and other mammals. As you can see in the following illustration, it gives this virus a huge potential to evolve into a new effective virus that can cause an epidemic.
History tells us it has happened too many times, and unless some drastic change is made in our agriculture - it’ll continue to happen.
There were many pandemics caused by antigenic drift/shift of Influenza virus A, such as: the Russian flu, the Asian flu, the swine flu, the bird flu, the Hong Kong flu, the Spanish flu and more.
Although it would be wrong to blame traditional meat industry for all of these epidemics, we do have to take into account the following facts:
- The human population is increasing exponentially.
- The demand for meat is increasing globally.
- Developing countries contain 80% of the world’s population, and in time these countries develop.
- Globalization and technological developments throughout the world have increased mobility of people all around the globe.
When we do take these facts and combine them with the above knowledge about pandemics, we can see why the risk for a new, deadly pandemic is very high. Moreover, the frequency of pandemics will rise as time goes by.
In order to overcome this frightening scenario, something has to be done. We’ve to change the way our agriculture is working. Cultured meat is a solution for this problem, for two reasons:
- Cultured meat will be manufactured in a much more hygienic environment than traditional meat.
- There will be no use of live animals.
Promoting cultured meat is an important, effective way of solving a major threat to humans all around the world. It can make a dramatic change in our world to humans, animals and our planet. Innovative, paradigm-shifting technology shapes the world. Cultured meat could become such a thing.