In response to Covid-19, the U.S. should invest in alternative protein research

Covid-19 has demonstrated that our current meat production system is vulnerable. Public investment in alternative proteins can help us create a more safe, efficient, and resilient protein supply.
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As policymakers strategize to rebuild the U.S. economy amid the Covid-19 pandemic, they face a critical question: Do we revert to the status quo, or do we create a better and more resilient food system?

The Breakthrough Institute, a global research center seeking technological solutions to environmental and human development challenges, recently released “Federal Support for Alternative Protein for Economic Recovery and Climate Mitigation,” which calls on lawmakers to direct funds to key initiatives that will provide jobs and reduce carbon emissions. This report specifically urges Congress to leverage the alternative protein industry to support an economic recovery in response to Covid-19.

Alternative proteins enhance food security

Covid-19 has demonstrated that our current meat production system is vulnerable. In the United States, we have seen how rapid spread of this illness can halt meat production and create nationwide supply chain disruptions. Alternative proteins can help us create a protein supply that is more secure, efficient, and resilient in economic and public health crises. But to maximize the progress of the alternative protein industry, we need public investment to spur new knowledge and technological innovation.

That’s why, over the past four years, GFI has become the leading voice for public funding for alternative protein research. We have been meeting with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, lobbying congressional offices, building a coalition of partner organizations to cosign policy statements, and meeting with federal agencies that direct research funds. Now, the Breakthrough Institute joins GFI in the push for public research funding for alternative proteins.

Growing the sector will create jobs and have economic benefits

Public investment in alternative protein research would also stimulate economic growth and create jobs—an increasingly essential need amid the economic uncertainty Covid-19 has created. The Breakthrough Institute estimates that by 2030, the alternative protein industry can create 200,000 jobs. But, to achieve that, the industry needs public funding support.

The Breakthrough Institute recommends creating an interagency research initiative to support alternative protein research and development, funding small business innovation programs, and providing federal loan guarantees to expand alternative protein production capacities.

GFI director of policy Jessica Almy said, “By investing in alternative protein research, policymakers will create jobs, provide more consumer choice, and enhance the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.”

Both GFI and the Breakthrough Institute know that to create a more robust, resilient food system that can withstand future crises, we need public investment in alternative proteins. We are pleased to see the Breakthrough Institute’s report align with our own views on how to transform our nation’s food system, and we encourage other organizations to join us in supporting public investment in alternative proteins.

To learn more about GFI’s work to secure public funding for alternative protein research and ensure fair federal and state regulations, check out our resources for policymakers