BILLIONAIRE Bill Gates said that rich countries like the US should eat all-synthetic rather than real beef in order to fight climate change.
Microsoft’s co-founder spoke on the idea in an interview with MIT Technology Review published on Sunday about his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.
In his book released on Tuesday, Gates explains the steps that must be taken to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
“I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef,” Gates said.
“You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they’re going to make it taste even better over time.”
Gates believes that “green premium” will eventually be “modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand.”
When cows digest grasses, they produce methane, a greenhouse gas that traps heat 28 times more than carbon dioxide, according to the Global Carbon Project.
Gates was asked if plant-based and lab-grown meats could be the full solution to a sustainable protein source worldwide, even in poor countries.
The billionaire replied that poor countries including Africa will need to use animal genetics to increase the amount of beef per emissions.
Ironically, emissions per pound of beef in the US is less than in Africa because the American system has become very productive.
“So no, I don’t think the poorest 80 countries will be eating synthetic meat,” Gates said.
He added that his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been taking the benefit of African livestock that can survive extreme heat and crossing it with the high meat and milk productivity of US beef lines.
However, Gates said he sees countries that are middle income or higher as able to move to all-synthetic beef.
“It’s one of those ones where, wow, you have to track it every year and see, and the politics [are challenging],” he said.
“There are all these bills that say it’s got to be called, basically, lab garbage to be sold. They don’t want us to use the beef label.”
Gates said that there are different food options that reduce methane emissions in livestock but that their digestive systems inevitably produce methane when breaking down grass.
“I’m afraid the synthetic [alternatives] will be required for at least the beef thing,” he said.
Gates has invested personally or through his company Breakthrough Energy Ventures in Beyond Meats, Impossible Foods, Carbon Engineering, Memphis Meats and Pivot Bio.
In promoting his book with BBC News, Gates has claimed that solving the coronavirus pandemic will be "very, very easy" compared to tackling climate change.
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