IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - March 2015 - 62

sustainability via reduced resource consumption (water,
fertilizers, etc.), fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and
decreased pollution due to animal wastes. In addition,
they noted that the reduction (but not elimination) of
agricultural feedstock requirements for cultured meat
as compared to livestock could increase availability
of arable land. Optimistically, it was noted that factory
meat production might facilitate enhanced environmental life cycle management of food production via water
recycling, wastewater treatment, etc. By contrast others
expressed concern that, even though cultured meat
production might be less environmentally-damaging
than traditional meat production on an equivalent mass
basis, significantly greater demand (possibly driven by
larger, more affluent populations that view IVM as inherently sustainable) could lead to higher production rates
and therefore more environmental impacts than a "business as usual" scenario with livestock production only.
An important theme also emerged over use and
management of the land that cattle currently occupy.
Participants observed that grazing animals like cattle
perform landscape management services that reduce
vegetation and thus the risk of wildfires. They suggested
that cultured meat could result in a kind of landscape
unlike anything seen in generations, if ever. Hence
alternative range management activities might need to
be adopted. While the potential exists for conversion
of grazing land to low-carbon uses, some participants
believed that the "appropriate balance of land use"
would require national oversight.

Economics in the United States
As with many other topics, the discussion on economics at the workshop resulted in uncertainty and lack
of consensus. The prospect of a shift toward cultured
meat caused two participants to express concern over
a general "employment crunch" and other financial
challenges in the agricultural supply chain. However,
others imagined a number of national economic benefits ranging from avoided food-related expenditures
to new business opportunities. Avoided expenditures,
they said, might stem from lower overall food prices due to reduced demand for livestock feed; fewer
losses associated with animal disease and adverse
weather; and fewer cases of food-borne illness that can
lead to lost wages, lower aggregate labor productivity,
and increased healthcare expenditures. New business
opportunities could take the form of novel food products and the application of complementary technologies
from other industries such as flavor additives or selfcooking packages.
Some participants also discussed the byproducts of
animal slaughter (e.g. gelatin, soap, pet food, leather,
etc.) and the surrounding economic uncertainty. On the

62

one hand, development of functional equivalents for
these products could lead to economic growth; on the
other hand, such equivalents could be more expensive
than the animal-sourced substances. It is also possible that animals could continue to be raised for these
products, making them both more expensive and, by
some standards, ethically questionable.
As with all areas, the workshop findings stressed
that there will be economic opportunities and challenges associated with a shift away from agricultural
meat in favor of IVM. The trends highlighted here are
likely only a few, but preparation and monitoring of the
downstream effects could serve to mitigate the most
significant losses.

Economic Equity
Attendees generally agreed with the notion that technology and society coevolve, but due to the nature of the
research, discussions often began with a description
of a technological change that was followed by a scenario describing its downstream social consequences.
For example, optimistic individuals believed that IVM
diffusion would lead to increasing wealth for the rich
and poor, whereas another wondered if there are politics inherent in cultured meat (like Langdon Winner's
discussion of bridges in Long Island [14]) and went on
to pessimistically imagine that the IVM industry itself
might contribute to inequity by building polluting factories in impoverished communities, thereby negatively
impacting health. However, on this topic, other participants started with projected social behavior and then
considered what role cultured meat might play. According to this future scenario, the rich might self-segregate
into enclaves according to food values, some of which
would procure local and organic food whereas others
would favor IVM and other engineered fare. It would
follow that food designed for optimal nutrition would
increase in price but impart consumers with superior
health and productivity. This would in turn widen the
gap between rich and poor within the United States as
well as worldwide. Based on the vision of communities
segregated by economic class, one member predicted
an associated gap in education and a less skillful American workforce overall. Reflecting on how the social
classes might react to such a divide, a final participant
predicted that the desire for equity would be a defining
characteristic of the sustainable development discourse
in the future.

Global Hunger and Development
With respect to global poverty and hunger, many respondents indicated deep uncertainty regarding impacts
on developing nations. Those who did express opinions were divided. The most optimistic held that IVM

IEEE TEchnology and SocIETy MagazInE

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MARCH 2015



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