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Biotech whiz Pat Brown makes global-warming case

Public Library of Science founder and inventer of the DNA microarray Patrick O. Brown has turned his scientific acumen towards convincing food manufacturers that the cost of producing and distributing meat are financially too high. Once the manufacturers are on board, he says, 'palates will follow'.

Pat Brown says animal farming is an ecological disaster.

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Brown brings scientific clout to the debate--he's a member of the National Academy of Sciences and an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute--and a realization that the arguments for change need to be economic, not just ethical. Growing crops to feed animals requires a lot more land, energy and fertilizer than growing them to feed people, he says: 70% of the land that was once Amazon rain forest is dedicated to grazing. Even if scientists figure out how to make milk with stem cells, it's unlikely they will be able to create milk with the same efficiency as they can corn or wheat.

"There's absolutely no possibility that 50 years from now this system will be operating as it does now," says Brown. "One approach is to just wait, and either we'll deal with it or we'll be toast. I want to approach this as a solvable problem." Solution: "Eliminate animal farming on planet Earth."