A coalition of UK farming groups, scientists, and startups has received funding for a new cultivated meat study. The research will examine whether cultivated meat is likely to threaten farmers’ livelihoods, or whether it could instead present an opportunity.
Scientists will look at what types of meat are most likely to be displaced by cultivated meat, and whether conventional meat production is set to decline at all as cultivated alternatives come onto the market. Additionally, the study will analyse whether farmers could produce cultivated meat in bioreactors on farms.
The project has received funding from UK Research and Innovation as part of its Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund Programme. It will be led by Professor Tom MacMillan, Elizabeth Creak Chair in Rural Policy & Strategy at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU).
Cultivated meat in the UK
Attitudes to cultivated meat are becoming more positive in the UK, with a recent study finding that 34% of consumers would be willing to try it. Of those who were unwilling, 27% said they may change their mind if given evidence that cultivated products were safe.
In February, the UK’s Novel Foods Regulations were updated to create a system supporting sustainable protein innovation. This could make it easier for cultivated meat to gain regulatory approval in the country.
“While eating less meat overall is a crucial step in tackling climate change, how we go about it makes a huge difference to the impact on farmers. Whether cultured meat goes mainstream is one of many factors at play,” said Professor MacMillan. He added, “This research is about working with farmers to investigate the threats and opportunities that the technology poses to them, as well as the environmental and health impacts. It is still at a stage where the findings can shape investment and policy and how this turns out.”