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  • Adam Kredo

Pentagon Wants to Feed Troops ‘Experimental’ Lab-Grown Meat to ‘Reduce CO2 Footprint’



A Pentagon-funded company is seeking proposals to feed America’s soldiers lab-grown meat in a bid to "reduce the CO2 footprint" at Defense Department outposts.


BioMADE, a public-private company that has received more than $500 million in funding from the Defense Department, announced earlier this month that it is seeking proposals to develop "innovations in food production that reduce the CO2 footprint of food production at ... DoD operational environments," according to an online announcement.


These include "novel cell culture methods suitable for the production of cultivated meat/protein," or lab-grown meat, a product that is still in its experimental phases. This type of meat is grown in a lab from animal cells with the aid of other chemicals, and has emerged as a flashpoint in debates about the efficacy and morality of manufacturing meat products without slaughtering animals.


BioMADE—which earlier this year received a $450 million infusion of taxpayer cash—maintains that lab-grown food products will reduce the Pentagon’s carbon footprint, a priority for the American military as it pursues a Biden administration-mandate to address climate change and other cultural issues that critics describe as "woke."


"Innovations in food production that reduce the CO2 footprint of food production at and/or transport to DoD operational environments are solicited," the company says in an informational document and accompanying press release. "These could include, but are not limited to, production of nutrient-dense military rations via fermentation processes, utilizing one carbon molecule (C1) feedstocks for food production, and novel cell culture methods suitable for the production of cultivated meat/protein."


BioMADE is also soliciting proposals for "processes that convert greenhouse gasses" and "projects that develop bioproducts useful in mitigating the negative environmental impacts either regionally or globally," including "bioproducts that can be used to prevent or slow coastal erosion."


Critics of the DoD’s partnership with BioMADE say that U.S. troops should not be used as test subjects for lab-grown meat products that are still in their experimental phase.


"Taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund the lab-grown meat sector," Jack Hubbard, executive director at the Center for the Environment and Welfare, a consumer group that analyzes emerging markets such as bioengineered meat. "Our troops deserve better than to be served lab-grown meat, produced in bioreactors with immortalized cells and chemicals."


"Unfortunately," Hubbard said, "this effort is being driven by an agenda that is political and anti-farmer. Our soldiers should never be used as guinea pigs."


The Pentagon and its outside partners, as part of its push to fund "alt-protein projects," made up to $2 million available for such projects, according to the publication Alt-Meat.


Supporters of these efforts say U.S. national security hinges on addressing global change and pursuing new technologies that enable products like lab grown meat.


"One of the most immediate, politically feasible, and high-impact ways to do this [address climate change] is for the U.S. government to invest in and accelerate alternative ways to produce meat," Matt Spence, a former Defense Department official wrote in a 2021 Slate piece.


Recent studies, however, including one published by the University of California, Davis suggest that "lab-grown meat’s carbon footprint [is] potentially worse than retail beef."


"If companies are having to purify growth media to pharmaceutical levels, it uses more resources, which then increases global warming potential," according to the report’s lead author, Derrick Risner, a member of UC Davis’s Department of Food Science and Technology. "If this product continues to be produced using the ‘pharma’ approach, it’s going to be worse for the environment and more expensive than conventional beef production."


The Defense Department and BioMADE did not respond to Washington Free Beacon requests for comment.

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