Biden Administration

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



The Pentagon has partnered with a company to explore feeding America’s soldiers lab-grown meat in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint at Defense Department outposts. BioMADE, a public-private company with over $500 million in funding from the Defense Department, announced earlier this month that it is seeking proposals for “innovations in food production that reduce the CO2 footprint of food production at … DoD operational environments,” according to an online announcement.

Among these innovations is the development of “novel cell culture methods suitable for the production of cultivated meat/protein,” or lab-grown meat. This type of meat is grown in a laboratory from animal cells using various chemicals and processes. While lab-grown meat remains in its experimental stages, it has become a focal point in discussions about the efficacy and ethics of producing meat without animal slaughter.

BioMADE—which received a $450 million infusion of taxpayer funds earlier this year—asserts that lab-grown food products will help the Pentagon achieve a reduced carbon footprint. This initiative aligns with the Biden administration’s mandate to address climate change and other cultural issues, which critics often label 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 stated in an informational document and accompanying press release. The proposals could include the production of nutrient-dense military rations via fermentation processes, utilizing one carbon molecule (C1) feedstocks for food production, and novel cell culture methods for cultivated meat/protein.

Additionally, BioMADE is inviting proposals for processes that convert greenhouse gases and projects that develop bioproducts to mitigate environmental impacts both regionally and globally. These include bioproducts to prevent or slow coastal erosion.

Critics argue that U.S. troops should not be test subjects for lab-grown meat products, which are still experimental. Jack Hubbard, executive director at the Center for the Environment and Welfare, a consumer group that analyzes emerging markets such as bioengineered meat, voiced strong opposition.

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund the lab-grown meat sector,” Hubbard said. “Our troops deserve better than to be served lab-grown meat, produced in bioreactors with immortalized cells and chemicals. Unfortunately, this effort is being driven by an agenda that is political and anti-farmer. Our soldiers should never be used as guinea pigs.”

As part of its push to fund “alt-protein projects,” the Pentagon and its partners have made up to $2 million available for such initiatives, according to the publication Alt-Meat.

Supporters of these efforts argue that U.S. national security depends on addressing global change and embracing new technologies like lab-grown meat. Matt Spence, a former Defense Department official, wrote in a 2021 Slate piece that “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.”

However, recent studies, including one from the University of California, Davis, suggest that lab-grown meat may have a worse carbon footprint than retail beef. Derrick Risner, a member of UC Davis’s Department of Food Science and Technology, highlighted that “if companies are having to purify growth media to pharmaceutical levels, it uses more resources, which then increases global warming potential. 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 requests for comment from the Washington Free Beacon.

As the debate continues, the Pentagon’s initiative to incorporate lab-grown meat into military diets remains a contentious topic, balancing the promise of technological advancement with concerns over practicality, ethics, and environmental impact.

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