by Zeeshan Yaseen

Lab-gown meat also called artificial or in vitro meat is grown using some animal cells by cell-culture technology. One of the several reasons of growing meat in a lab is ‘controlled environment’ in which it is produced without using antibiotics.

Communication assistant at one of the largest cultured meat-grown company (Mosa Meat), Hannah Tait has emphasized on the importance of cultured meat as it carries no such health risks as compared to kill or HALAL meat.

Moreover, animals’ reduction in food supply will reduce the transmission of zoonotic diseases and is supposed to promote human health ultimately. Those diseases which are transmitted to human from animals are called zoonotic diseases, as COVID-19 is postulated to have come in humans from bat.

In addition, reducing the number of animals in the food supply will promote human health and reduce the likelihood of zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases are caused by pathogens transmitted between animals and humans. COVID-19 is speculated to be of a zoonotic origin; it was most likely transferred from a bat to another animal, which made direct contact with a human.

Due to the consumption of meat, there are multiple diseases which are being caused such as from poultry Salmonella and E. coli from beef. The contamination of food with chemicals such as pesticides called intoxication, and this can cause E. coli infection.

On the other hand, parasitic, bacterial, or viral contamination of meat causes Salmonella infection. It is an alarming to discover that animals’ meat contains residues of drugs such as antibiotics used to treat them, which seems to create potential risks for human health.

To get higher production of meat, animals’ diseases which arise due to unhygienic lifestyle must be treated with high antibiotic doses to prevent pathogenic infections. 80% of all sold antibiotics in US are used in animal farming and poultry industry, while other percentage chunk is used to treat human pathogenic infections.

This extravagant and uncontrolled use of antibiotics raise problems such as multidrug resistance or antibiotic resistance in pathogens. Furthermore, genetically modified feedstock causes meat to have, in addition, steroids, hormones, and toxins.

According to the 2015’s FDA data, there are almost 450 drugs which are given to animals. These additives in feed and drugs are given to the farm animals and chickens to suppress strict confinement producing adverse effects.

To treat hoof and skin infections, they are fed with fungicides, bactericides, and antiseptics. For increasing weight and milk, eggs production, ionophore drugs and hormones are used respectively.

Uncontrolled use of these antibiotics and drugs permits many harmful toxins to form in animal tissues, specifically in fat containing tissues. Dioxins are one those extremely dangerous toxins which can cause many serious health problems in humans such as cancer, infertility or reproduction disorders, and developmental defects.

Dioxin poisoning is asymptomatic and mostly caused by the animal products consumption. During manufacturing of pesticides and herbicides, dioxins are produced as by-product and gets accumulated in animals’ fat tissues which we consume. Farmed salmon is reported to have 16 times more dioxin accumulation in comparison with wild salmon.

Antimicrobial resistance: A hanging sword:

Antibiotics are such chemical entities which are used to eliminate bacteria. Bacteria have mutated themselves over generations and now, they have developed resistance against most of the available antibiotics in the market.

Excessive use of antibiotics and other feed additives have made bacteria resistant to the antibiotics and if these bacteria zoonotically cause infections in human, unfortunately, we will not have any cure for it, said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general.

In addition, he expressed his anticipation that lack of efficacious treatment options is an alarming security ultimatum in case of deadly and sudden disease outbreak.

There is no need of using extremely harmful pesticides, fungicides, or antibiotics in case of cultured meat as it is meant to be grown in clean environment. However, small antibiotic dosages are given to the meat culture, but less than farming animals notably. Therefore, it is speculated that artificial meat can significantly reduce the uncontrolled antibiotic usage and it, ultimately, can play a role in eliminating antimicrobial resistance.

Coronavirus pandemic has taught us a lesson, “always be prepared for incoming”. Antimicrobial resistance could cause bacterial disease outbreak in coming years and what if at that time we will not have any effective treatment options.

We must take steps to eliminate this hanging threat on our heads by carefully use of antibiotics and develop new antimicrobials. We can also take an alternative on current farming methods.

There are hurdles in cultured-meat productions which need to be removed. One of those is not having enough production by this technology to meet the demand from such huge population. Investments are needed in cellular agriculture.


Zeeshan Yasin, MS Industrial Biotechnology


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