Bill Gates started beef with beef, suggesting in an interview that rich countries should only eat synthetic beef for the sake of the planet. Gates seemed aware of how controversial the statement would be, commenting that “people were saying, ‘You can’t have cows anymore’ – talking about politically unpleasant views on issues.”
Gates – whose fortune is $137 billion, as of February 17, 2021 and ranked fourth on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires list – published in a book titled Avoiding Climate Disaster on February 16. The book’s description states “Bill Gates sets out a comprehensive, practical – and accessible – plan for how the world can emit greenhouse gases to avoid climate disasters.”
In an interview with the MIT Technology Review about the new book, Gates asked how optimistic he is about reducing emissions from agriculture in the future. “It’s very difficult in the case of livestock,” he replied. “I fear that at least the beef thing will require synthetics [protein alternatives like plant-based burgers).”
Asked if plant-based and lab-based meats could accept environmentally-friendly proteins around the world, Gates said the approach could be different in rich and poor countries. “For Africa and other poor countries, we need to use animal genetics to dramatically increase the amount of beef they emit.”Oddly enough, American livestock, because they are so productive, emits less dramatically than a pound of beef in Africa.”
“No, I don’t think the 80 poorest countries will eat synthetic meat. I think all rich countries should go for 100% synthetic beef. You can get used to the differences in taste, and the claim is that they will increase the taste over time. After all, that green premium is moderate enough that you can use the controls to change or completely remove people’s [behavior] or needs.”
It is noteworthy that Bill Gates is the Chairman of the Investment Fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures and has invested in companies such as Beyond Meats and Impossible Foods, either personally or through this fund. However, as supported by the Gates study, previous studies have suggested a less meaty and more plant-based diet – especially a lesser one of red meat – and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the progress of climate change.
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