Cultured, or in vitro, meat made headlines when it was unveiled last year in London.
While the researchers’ calculated that cultured meat would indeed require smaller quantities of feed crops and take up less land than livestock, it would require more energy, likely produced by fossil fuels.
“As a result, the global warming potential for cultured meat is likely to be higher than that of poultry and pork but lower than that of beef,” Carolyn Mattick, Amy Landis and Brad Allenby wrote in an article posted on Slate.com.
The article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America and Slate, exploring the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy and culture.
The conclusions are speculative, the authors note.
Many factors could change the equations over time, including more efficient ways of generating energy and more efficient feeding protocols.
Also, cultured meat does not also provide the byproducts, such as hides, blood and feathers, on which other products and industries rely.
Recreating those products could also increase the overall energy requirements beyond those currently used in livestock production and slaughter, they say.