China has signed a multimillion-dollar deal to purchase lab-grown meat from Israel.
The $300-million agreement has elicited positive feedback from environmental and animal rights groups because the meat — though grown using some animal cells — is produced in a laboratory, significantly reducing the practice of slaughtering animals.
The Asian superpower is not regarded as a world leader in environmental issues, so the deal with the three Israeli companies – SuperMeat, Future Meat Technologies and Meat the Future – is viewed by some groups as a sign that China is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.
Head of the Good Food Institute, Bruce Friedrich, said the deal was a “colossal market opportunity.”
He believes the deal “could put (clean) meat onto the radar of Chinese officials who have the capacity to steer billions of dollars into this technology”.
Just last year, the Chinese government issued an advisory, telling citizens to reduce their consumption of meat by 50 percent.
China currently imports approximately £10 billion worth of meat annually to help feed its 1.4 billion people.
UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while Worldwatch Institute has estimated it could be as much as 51 percent.
The world's water freshwater supply is also significantly impacted by traditional farming.
Additionally, about one billion people currently suffer from hunger globally and the population will reportedly reach 9.8 billion by 2050, making a high-animal diet unsustainable.