In an interview with Sabine Wadewitz, life sciences expert Wolfgang Schönig talks about the details of CO²-neutral meat production, the legal framework conditions, and the latest developments in the industry.
Dr. Schönig, CO2-neutral meat production is considered one of the key aspects in the fight against climate change. Can we really make a big difference through our food choices?
According to expert estimates, conventional meat production takes up around 75% of the agricultural land used worldwide and is responsible for over 15% of the greenhouse gases emitted globally. This is a rising trend. Alternatives, such as plant-based meat substitutes or meat produced in cell cultures, are significantly more resource-conserving and climate-friendly by comparison, mainly because no greenhouse gases are produced, and the high water and energy consumption of conventional animal husbandry is eliminated. For the agri food industry, this is not so much an option, it’s a necessity, as the industry will have to meet strict CO2 reduction requirements by 2030 as part of the EU’s so-called Green Deal.
How often does environmentally friendly meat end up on your plate?
The market for meat substitutes is growing rapidly, and this is happening without strict regulatory requirements for the industry in terms of the CO2 reductions already in place. The market here probably anticipates the compelling need and sees the opportunities – both for plant based alternatives and for cell-cultured meat. It is important to remember that the world’s population will grow to nearly 10 billion by 2050, all of whom will need sufficient protein foods. So it's not so much a lifestyle choice, but an essential contribution to curb CO2 emissions and preserve our lives. It also presents immense economic opportunities.