Hong Kong’s love of meat risks leaving the city on the wrong side of progress
- As Hong Kong opens a new dairy farm training school, the rest of the world is already moving towards innovative and cruelty-free food production
- Missing the boat on plant-based and lab-grown animal products won’t help our global competitiveness or environmental footprint
Failure to recognise the significance of these developments will come at the cost of Hong Kong’s competitiveness and innovativeness, not to mention its track record in sustainability and ethics.
An age of innovative food, including plant-based and cell-cultured milk, meat, fish and seafood, that can be produced in a scalable way, is arriving. And Hong Kong, where meat consumption is higher than anywhere else in the world, can play an important role.
To begin training in 2022 for a job in the animal dairy industry in 2028 – since the CityU veterinary course takes six years – seems as good a career move as starting to learn today how to repair video recorders in six years, only less ethical.
This year, the Dutch government decided to radically reduce the number of livestock to decrease nitrogen oxide emissions by 50 per cent by 2030. It has set aside €24.3 billion (US$25 billion) to compensate an estimated 11,200 farms that will have to close and another 17,600 farmers whose livestock numbers will be reduced.
Despite more than two years of protests by farmers, who have blocked roads with burning waste and even asbestos, the Dutch government is staying the green course and investing €60 million in cellular agriculture. The Dutch city of Haarlem has announced that it will ban meat advertisements in public places by 2024 to promote sustainable food.
The chief executive said that “we will attract high‑quality enterprises and talents to Hong Kong, primarily focusing on industries such as life and health technology, artificial intelligence and data science, as well as advanced manufacturing and new energy technology”.
It is safe to argue that the lowest hanging fruit the Hong Kong government can reach for is to provide regulatory clarity about cell-culture agriculture. This will stimulate investment in this innovative industry in the market with the highest meat consumption per capita in the world.
Danny Friedmann is assistant professor of law at Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen