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Systemic changes affecting the future of food
As for "dwindling natural resources" such as land and water, one would hope that smarter techniques for using those commodities will come to fore. For example, Holland (the Netherlands) is now the second in world exports of food. see https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/09/netherlands-is-world-number-two-in-agricultural-exports-by-using-greenhouses-and-new-technology.html
By reducing the use of herbacides, pesticides, and fertilizers and antibiotics; and perhaps increasing use of crops adapted (yes, sometimes by modern genetic modification techniques rather than centuries old methods of cross-breeding) healthful products can be produced efficiently. Using such techniques also allow the farm to move closer to the table.
I also belive there are potential for growth in synthetic/cultured meat as costs continue to drop and tissue engineering improves. This would represent a great protein solution that is far less resource intensive and less taxing on the environment. Not to mention the reduction in the suffering of animals. Even plant-based meat alternatives are coming a long way, convincing even Tyson to redefine themselves as a protein company.
Ruminants are the most efficient way of creating protein. They essentially need only water, air and pasture to lay down muscle tissue on their carcasses. And, yes there are free range ruminants and grazed cattle in many parts of the US. Similarly, plants require relatively little in the way of nutrients to produce protein but the protein is of lower quality. I fail to understand how having to provide every single mineral and calorie to a culture in the lab is in any way comparable in cost or energy or resource demand.
Agree that animal handling should not cause suffering to the animals and some practices should be changed.
The idea aorund recource efficiency comes in that the cells do not need to metabolize more calories or transpire more water than what they need to grow. Tissue engineers have found a way for muscle cells to contract around a cylinder to replicate the muscle movements in a live animal. I believe there are several product concepts for the next generation of bireactors, but they struggle getting funding. Still early stage, but the price drops have already proven to be exponentially decreasing, similar to many other new technologies.
If you look at the whole picture, that these cells are growing a space that has to be controlled in terms of temperature, air flow, etc. it will be clearer that the tally of all of the input required adds up. Add the operator time and effort to source reagents that have to be QC'd and maintain the equipment.
While the lungs and vascular system and bones and other parts are largely discarded (in this country), these are the parts that allow the animal to be self-sufficient, self-sustaining, and self-reproducing. Quite a package. And I do believe we should respect these beings for the wonderful gift they give us and not just slaughter them without thought or thanks. I don't feel that tissue engineers can compete.