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Fungi based protein- A type of meat alternative help to save earth' s Forest

An alternative meat  made from a type of fungus

The market-ready meat replacement has a comparable flavor and texture to beef, but it's a biotech product that uses far fewer resources and emits far fewer greenhouse gases as a result of agricultural and land-use change. This is based on the idea that the global population's hunger for meaty bites is expanding, and it's the first time researchers have projected the development of these market-ready meat substitutes into the future, analyzing their potential environmental impact.

"The food system is responsible for a third of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, with ruminant meat production accounting for the single largest source," says Florian Humpenöder, PIK researcher and study lead author. This is due to the clearing of more carbon-rich forests for cattle grazing or feed production, as well as increased greenhouse-gas emissions from animal husbandry. Existing biotechnology, such as "microbial protein," which is nutrient-rich biomass with a meat-like texture created by microbes like fungus via fermentation, could be part of the solution.

"In the future, replacing bovine meat with microbial protein might significantly reduce the food system's greenhouse gas footprint," adds Humpenöder. "The good news is that in the future, people will not have to fear eating solely greens. They can continue to consume burgers and other similar foods; the burger patties will only be made differently."

Researchers from Germany and Sweden used microbial protein in a computer simulation model to detect environmental effects across the entire food and agriculture system, rather than just single items, as in prior studies. Their simulations run through 2050 and take into account future population increase, food consumption, dietary patterns, and land use and agriculture dynamics. Because meat consumption is expected to expand in the future, more forests and non-forest natural vegetation may be lost to make way for pastures and farmland.

"In comparison to a business-as-usual scenario, we discovered that substituting 20% of ruminant meat per capita by 2050 would cut yearly deforestation and CO2 emissions from land-use change in half. Reduced cow numbers lower not just land pressure but also methane emissions from cattle's rumens and nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizing feed or manure management "according to Humpenöder "Replacing minced red meat with microbial protein would be an excellent place to start reducing the negative effects of modern beef farming."

"Meat analogues are divided into three groups," says Isabelle Weindl, co-author and PIK researcher. "Plant-based ones, such as soybean burger patties, and animal cells generated in a petri dish, also known as cultured meat, which is currently highly expensive but has recently gained a lot of public interest. There's also fermentation-derived microbial protein, which we find particularly intriguing. It is now accessible in supermarkets in a wide range, for example in the United Kingdom and Switzerland, and it can be largely disconnected from agricultural output. Even when sugar is used as a feedstock, our findings reveal that microbial protein requires far less agricultural land than ruminant meat for the same protein supply."

What fake meat is made of ?  The answer is simple, Microbial protein, like beer or bread, is produced in specialized cultures. The bacteria feed on sugar and maintain a constant temperature, producing a very protein-rich product that tastes, feels, and is as healthy as red meat. It was created in the 1980s and is based on a centuries-old fermentation technology. In 2002, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared a microbial protein meat substitute (mycoprotein) to be safe.

"Biotechnology offers a promising toolbox for a multitude of land-related concerns, ranging from ecosystem preservation to boosting food security," adds co-author and PIK Land Use Management group leader Alexander Popp. "Animal protein alternatives, such as dairy substitutes, can significantly improve animal welfare, save water, and alleviate pressure on carbon-rich and biodiverse ecosystems." However, shifting more and more production from animals to fermentation tanks raises critical problems, the most important of which is the energy source for the manufacturing process.

"A large-scale transition to biotech food necessitates a large-scale decarbonization of electrical generation in order to fully realise the climate protection potential," Popp adds. "However, if done correctly, microbial protein can assist meat eaters in accepting the change. It can make a significant difference."

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