The United States has just opened a regulatory framework for the production of in vitro laboratory meat. There is no doubt that in the coming decade, a breaker will water the world market with this type of product, as was the case for soda colas more than 40 years ago, which, note it, the public authorities still accept that we do not know the completeness of the compositions: "secret formulas" oblige!
Multiple agri-food players will quickly adopt this "meat" synthesis in fast food (burgers, dumplings …). If the food of tomorrow will of course be less meaty for many reasons, including ecological, is it necessary to be prepared to accept a highly artificial diet: steaks in vitro, strawberries growing in containers all year round, liquid concentrates or artificially flavored, enriched with synthetic vitamins supposed to provide all the nutrients in place of a meal … In short, what should be called "food tech", presented as environmentally friendly because without use of pesticides, concentrated in vitamins and minerals, low in cholesterol … The ideal?
"Food tech" is not environmentally friendly
Rather, it is a form of nonsense on the way for which huge investments are being made. This "food tech" is not environmentally friendly, because it will be extremely energy-intensive (need artificial light, synthetic nutrient media …), unlike anything that grows in the fields and animal breeding that enjoy free sun rays and rich soil.
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To believe, moreover, that one will be able to achieve long-term digestible foods with sums of various constituents and flavored in order to give taste can only be a decoy. The composition of a carrot, an egg, a cheese is not only an assembly of components, but processes of elaboration of the different complex nutritive elements associated with synergies of action between them, this that the promoters of "food tech" can never realize.
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There is also a match between basic food, so-called raw, and human digestion. However, this already disappears with ultra-processed food (synthetic additives, migration of packaging elements in food …) and the inadequacy will increase with what is being prepared. Indeed, the body, physiologically, does not recognize all these synthetic molecules. How will he react? Developing allergies, digestive difficulties that will manifest in different ways, including bloating, fatigue … It is estimated that one in two French suffers because of ultratransformed power supply. Pathologies could develop, such as autoimmune diseases, probably some types of cancer.
Finally, this high technology industrially developing artificial food will create dependencies vis-à-vis international multinationals related to their patents, this is also one of the points sought. No longer need peasants, is that what we want?
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What to do ? Science and public authorities must mobilize to reverse this trend. It is essential to invest, much more than what is currently done, in research allowing the optimization of natural biological processes – combinations of cultures (unlike what is practiced with generalized monocultures), microbiological improvement of Soils, use of plants better nitrogen fixers – and to help and train farmers to use these practices, beyond bio, with engineers agronomists, very highly qualified in France.
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Let's choose as much as possible an unprocessed and proximity diet. Let's not forget that feeding must remain an act of pleasure and conviviality and in no way accept this artificialized food announced in the medium term. In the immediate future, during this cold period, why not prepare a lentil soup: cook leeks, use the cooking water to cook coral lentils; mix the leeks and incorporate them in the lentils; salt very lightly and add a little thyme …
Dr. Chevallier is a nutritionist