The use of medium is central to biomedical research as it keeps our cells happy & alive!
Unfortunately, some of the stuff that we put into the medium makes someone else unhappy, and another someone else has to die for us to get it.
For every 500 mL of medium, most scientists add 50 mL of FBS.
FBS is short for Fetal Bovine Serum -- and it´s basically blood serum harvested from newly born (and killed) calves. That´s tough!
In addition, the adult cows (the parents) probably don´t have the most wonderful lives and their burps consist of methane.
The use of FBS might thus be great for our cells and for research, but it´s definitely not great in terms of animal welfare and greenhouse gas emissions!
SO: WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
Until we have an alternative to FBS, we have to accept that the price for keeping our laboratory cells alive is that sad cows burp and their calves are killed.
But you can help reduce the need for FBS by being a medium minimalist!
How low can you go when seeding your cells? How many cells do you need for your experiment -- and how much medium do those cells need?
By reducing how much medium you are using, you will not only make a difference for cows and methane emissions, you can also save money.
And if you want to take it to the next level, you can put pressure on the FBS suppliers so we can get better conditions for the cows. The suppliers are much more likely to change behaviour if they know that their customers care about animal welfare!