The Human Health Effects of Cultivated Meat: Chemical Safety

The Human Health Effects of Cultivated Meat: Chemical Safety
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More than 95 percent of human exposure to industrial pollutants like dioxins and PCBs comes from fish, other meat, and dairy.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

By cultivating muscle meat directly, without associated organs like intestines, the incidence of foodborne diseases could be significantly reduced, as well as exposure to any antibiotics, pesticides, arsenic, dioxins, and hormones associated with conventionally-grown meat. Currently, seven hormone drugs are approved by the FDA to bulk up the production of milk and meat. In the European Union, there exists a total ban on such use. But even without injected hormones, animal products naturally have hormones because they come from animals. Eggs, for example, contribute more to the dietary intake of estrogens than beef, whether the animal is treated with extra hormones or not. After all, eggs come straight from the hen’s ovaries—of course, they’re swimming with hormones. But if you’re just growing the muscle meat or egg white protein directly, you don’t need to include reproductive organs, or adrenal glands, or any of the associated hormones.

Chemical safety is another concern for meat produced under current production systems. There are chemical toxicants and industrial pollutants that build up in the food chain, such as pesticides, PCBs, heavy metals, and flame retardants. But with cultivated meat, there is no food chain. You could grow all the tuna you wanted with zero mercury.

When the World Health Organization determined that processed meat was a known human carcinogen, and unprocessed meat a probable human carcinogen, they weren’t even talking about the carcinogenic environmental pollutants. When researchers tested retail meat for the presence of 33 chemicals with calculated carcinogenic potential, like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, organochlorine pesticides like DDT, and dioxin-like PCBs, they concluded that in order to reduce the risk of cancer, it was suggested limiting ingestion of beef, pork, or chicken to a maximum of five servings a month.

Why cultivate meat from scratch when you can just buy organic? Because surprisingly, the consumption of organic meat does not diminish the carcinogenic potential associated with the intake of these industrial pollutants. In recent years, a number of surprising studies have compared the presence of environmental contaminants in organic versus conventional meat, and organic was sometimes more contaminated, and not just beef. Higher levels were found in pork and poultry, too.

If you look at the micropollutants and chemical residues in organic and conventional meat, several environmental contaminants—dioxins, PCBs, lead, arsenic—were measured at significantly higher levels in the organic samples. The green is organic; the blue is conventional, though cooking helps to draw off some of the fat where the PCBs are concentrated.

Seafood seems to be an exception, though, with steaming, for example, generally increasing contaminant levels, increasing contaminant exposure, concentrating mercury levels as much as 47 percent. Better to not have toxic buildup in the first place.

Yes, over 95 percent of human exposure to industrial pollutants like dioxins and PCBs comes from foods like meat, fatty fish, and dairy. But it doesn’t just appear there magically. The only way the chicken, fish, and other meat leads to human exposure is because they build up a lifetime of exposure in our polluted world from incinerators, power plants, and sewer sludge, and on and on. Unlike conventional meat production, a slaughter-free harvest would not just mean no infected animals, but no contaminated animals. Pollutant-wise, it would be like taking a time machine back before the industrial revolution.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video production by Glass Entertainment

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

By cultivating muscle meat directly, without associated organs like intestines, the incidence of foodborne diseases could be significantly reduced, as well as exposure to any antibiotics, pesticides, arsenic, dioxins, and hormones associated with conventionally-grown meat. Currently, seven hormone drugs are approved by the FDA to bulk up the production of milk and meat. In the European Union, there exists a total ban on such use. But even without injected hormones, animal products naturally have hormones because they come from animals. Eggs, for example, contribute more to the dietary intake of estrogens than beef, whether the animal is treated with extra hormones or not. After all, eggs come straight from the hen’s ovaries—of course, they’re swimming with hormones. But if you’re just growing the muscle meat or egg white protein directly, you don’t need to include reproductive organs, or adrenal glands, or any of the associated hormones.

Chemical safety is another concern for meat produced under current production systems. There are chemical toxicants and industrial pollutants that build up in the food chain, such as pesticides, PCBs, heavy metals, and flame retardants. But with cultivated meat, there is no food chain. You could grow all the tuna you wanted with zero mercury.

When the World Health Organization determined that processed meat was a known human carcinogen, and unprocessed meat a probable human carcinogen, they weren’t even talking about the carcinogenic environmental pollutants. When researchers tested retail meat for the presence of 33 chemicals with calculated carcinogenic potential, like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, organochlorine pesticides like DDT, and dioxin-like PCBs, they concluded that in order to reduce the risk of cancer, it was suggested limiting ingestion of beef, pork, or chicken to a maximum of five servings a month.

Why cultivate meat from scratch when you can just buy organic? Because surprisingly, the consumption of organic meat does not diminish the carcinogenic potential associated with the intake of these industrial pollutants. In recent years, a number of surprising studies have compared the presence of environmental contaminants in organic versus conventional meat, and organic was sometimes more contaminated, and not just beef. Higher levels were found in pork and poultry, too.

If you look at the micropollutants and chemical residues in organic and conventional meat, several environmental contaminants—dioxins, PCBs, lead, arsenic—were measured at significantly higher levels in the organic samples. The green is organic; the blue is conventional, though cooking helps to draw off some of the fat where the PCBs are concentrated.

Seafood seems to be an exception, though, with steaming, for example, generally increasing contaminant levels, increasing contaminant exposure, concentrating mercury levels as much as 47 percent. Better to not have toxic buildup in the first place.

Yes, over 95 percent of human exposure to industrial pollutants like dioxins and PCBs comes from foods like meat, fatty fish, and dairy. But it doesn’t just appear there magically. The only way the chicken, fish, and other meat leads to human exposure is because they build up a lifetime of exposure in our polluted world from incinerators, power plants, and sewer sludge, and on and on. Unlike conventional meat production, a slaughter-free harvest would not just mean no infected animals, but no contaminated animals. Pollutant-wise, it would be like taking a time machine back before the industrial revolution.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Video production by Glass Entertainment

Motion graphics by Avo Media

Doctor's Note

Less contamination with fecal residues, toxic pollutants, antibiotics, and hormones, up to 99 percent less of an environmental impact, and zero pandemic risk. Cultivated meat allows people to have their meat and eat it, too, without affecting the rest of us.

This is the final video in this cultivated meat series. If you missed the first two, they are on Food Safety and Antibiotic Resistance.

I previously did a video series on plant-based meats, including:

They are also all available in a digital download from a webinar I did: The Human Health Implications of Plant-Based and Cultivated Meat for Pandemic Prevention and Climate Mitigation.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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