The UK could solve the housing crisis, re-wild the country and help fight climate change if it invested more in lab-grown meat, a new report has claimed.
According to research by the think-tank Adam Smith Institute, the coming availability of lab grown meat could mean a cut in agricultural greenhouse gas emissions of 78-96% while using 99% less land.
Implications for the fight against climate change could be immense, the report argues, with some 14.5% of human caused greenhouse gases and 60% of biodiversity loss attributed to current intensive farming practices.
Meat consumption has rocketed as GDP has grown across the world. The report states that beef, for example, takes a whole hectare to feed one person against nineteen people fed per hectare of rice produced.
But the agricultural industry is on the "cusp of an historic change" that could see billions access meat at affordable prices, while reducing carbon emissions and freeing up land for housing, the Institute explains.
By the year 2050, lab grown meat generated by green energy could allow more people to access quality meat at a sustainably lower environmental cost.
While growing meat in a lab has been difficult to master, and costly to engineer, the price has been falling.
Five years ago, the cost of a burger made with meat grown in a lab stood at $215,000, but now the price tag has dropped to £8.
The UK government has now been urged by the Institute to "shy away from lobbying attempts" like those seen in the USA to lock out competition by changing the legal definition of meat to exclude meats produced in labs or factories.
EU Law restricts plant-based foods, such as Almond or Oat milk, from being sold using terms such as milk, butter and cheese.
Instead, report authors Dr Madsen Pirie and Jamie Hollywood argue that the country needs to recognise new technological developments like cultured meat “are in the process of radically transforming the world economy”.
They suggest that government should learn from financial services “sandbox” regulations to encourage experimenting businesses to locate, develop and lead the world from the UK.
Madsen Pirie, President of the Adam Smith Institute said the UK should recognise that cultured meats are a "game-changer"
"For 12,000 years humans have reared animals for meat. In future they will not need to. This will release millions of acres of pasture land for other uses," Mr Pirie said.
"It will resolve all of the ethical issues involved in the rearing and slaughter of animals. It will give the world access to a low cost, high protein diet, and the UK could become a world leader in this multi-billion-pound new industry.”