Malaysia sets focus on lab-grown meat to reduce agricultural emissions

Lab-grown meat requires significantly less land and can be produced at a closer proximity to consumers. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Within the next two years, Malaysia is set to commence its own production of lab-grown meat, potentially aiding the critical fight against climate change

Cell AgriTech, a Malaysian firm, plans to complete construction of the nation's inaugural cultured meat production facility in Penang by the end of 2024, where live animal cells will be cultivated into meat products for consumption using bioreactors. 

This technology is seemingly more environmentally friendly than traditional farming, as lab-grown meat requires significantly less land and can be produced at a closer proximity to consumers, decreasing the carbon footprint associated with land clearance and product transportation. 

According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 2013 report, 14.5% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to livestock farming, with most of these emissions originating from feed production and animal digestion. For instance, cows releasing methane, a gas considered more environmentally destructive than carbon dioxide.

Speaking to Channel News Asia, Jason Ng, founder of Cell Agritech, said, “We use less land, less water and produce less waste,” noting that cells would only need to be extracted from a single animal. “If you talk about fish, some people don’t eat the head or the skin. But we can just take muscle cells from a fish and produce fish fillet.”

Cell AgriTech has successfully grown grouper and Japanese eel meat and is aiming to scale up production for export by 2025. While the sale of lab-grown meat is currently prohibited in Malaysia, the company's founder, is collaborating with the health ministry to develop regulations ensuring the safety of his products. 

Ng believes the rigorous certification process will enhance the safety of his cultivated meat beyond that of conventional meat, as his products won't have been treated with antibiotics, unlike livestock. The company's initial focus will be on seafood, with plans to cultivate beef and chicken later. 

For more on how 2023 can be a game-changer for lab-grown meat, as well as the upcoming Extinction Conference being held in May 2023, click here.