Cellular Agriculture for a brighter future
How are lab grown meats produced? (Revised on 20 and 22 March 2016)
Cellular Agriculture is the way we will be producing real dairy without exploiting cows, eggs without hens and meat without having sentient animals born to be exploited and slaughtered.
Welcome to the 21st century!
The 20th century saw considerable improvements with regards to various human rights. The 21st century has seen an amazing increase in reports concerning people who care about animals and the science is there to back up social progress.
This article aims to offer a simple overview of how it is done and of the various teams working on it around the world.
So how is this animal friendly meat produced, then?
A number of tools are used and different projects around the world are going about it in different ways.
Looking up the gene in a DNA database (basically, numbers on a computer screen) helps understand both the genome (set of genes; whether active or inactive) as well as the proteome (set of proteins that correspond with said genes). Generally, DNA sequencing is done by another lab. There are already large libraries of sequenced DNA.
The desired protein’s gene will then be inserted into a microbe. “The microbe will now be able to make the proteins you were looking for. You will only have to create this starter culture once.”
From this starter culture, teams of scientists grow the items they wish to work on. Generally, These cells develop inside bioreactor tanks.
This page, designed by New Harvest, offers plenty more explanations, with details and examples, concerning cellular agriculture, how it’s done and why it’s needed:
Our mission is to build and establish the field of cellular agriculture. Our vision is a resilient, vibrant, post…www.new-harvest.org
Another method requires painlessly harvesting muscle cells from a living animal, such as a cow (in the case of lab grown beef). Scientists then feed and nurture the cells so they multiply to create muscle tissue, which is the main component of the meat we eat. The cultured beef website at Maastricht University suggests that “it is biologically exactly the same as the meat tissue that comes from a cow.” I think that we can say that it is biologically very similar, at least. I will be interviewing Mark Post in the near future and will ask him about the iron content, the fat content and about growth factors.
The cells grow into strands. 20,000 of these small strands of meat are then combined to create one normal sized hamburger.
We still need donor animals for the muscle cells, but the animals can provide the cells by harmless biopsy. One sample could create up to 20,000 tons of Cultured Beef. You can take a sample from an animal and the animal lives.
Now, another simple explanation was recently provided in an article on the NeuroLogica Blog:
“Lab grown meat involves taking muscle stem cells from animals, like pigs, chickens, or cows, and then growing them, well, in a lab. They can be grown in a large vat of nutrients.
What you end up with is not fully formed muscle, as if it were taken from an animal, but simply a mass of muscle cells. Animal muscles also contain fat, vessels, and connective tissue, which help give it its texture. For taste the fat marbling is probably the most important.
We are not close to creating a full steak, but we can already create the equivalent of ground meat, for hamburgers, meatballs, meatloaf, or whatever you would use ground meat for.”
At this stage, foetal bovine serum, a nutrient-rich fluid extracted from unborn calves, is still needed to grow the cells but teams are working on plant based alternatives. This is mentioned here and here.
Future Food in Austria also do not interfere with the cells’ genetic sequences.
GMO are used to research animal friendly milk - dairy without exploiting and killing cows. This is what the Muufri team is working on, using genetically modified yeast. There are zero animals involved in the process. All about Muufri HERE.
Same goes with Clara Foods, who are working on creating cruelty free eggs using yeast cells. All about Clara Foods HERE.
Memphis Meats and New Wave Foods in the USA are also benefiting from biotechnology in order to create vegan meats and seafood. That’s right. Seafood! According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), for every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as bycatch while 90–100 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year. Scientist agree that 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted and we could see fishless oceans by 2048 (Source).
Through technology, New Wave Foods are creating seafood that doesn’t have to be harvested from this highly vulnerable ecosystem and that is created entirely in our food laboratories. “They are inspired by mother nature to recreate what people have been eating for centuries, in a better and more sustainable way.”
New Waves Foods and Memphis Meats are both companies linked to Indie Bio, an umbrella organisation whose aim is to help such start ups grow and develop and to promote GMO and biotechnology to help solve humanity’s problems - and, here, sentient animals!
IndieBio and Stanford Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES) competition are excited to…sf.indiebio.co
This is getting really exciting!
These animal friendly alternatives to producing and slaughtering millions of sentient animals will become reality in the forthcoming years. As early as 2020, we may well find lab grown meats on supermarket shelves. Of course, this estimate is likely to be a rather optimistic one. Still, it’s no longer science-fiction!
Animal advocacy is important to help people become aware that sentient animals should not be exploited as if they were slaves or machines put on earth for our sole benefit. If we can live without exploiting and killing other animals, why wouldn’t we? Animal advocacy is a necessity. People need to understand that treating other animals the way they would not want to see their companion animals treated is illogical, cruel and, quite frankly horrible.
Animal Charity Evaluators helps you choose which charities to support. You definitely should check them out if you’re not familiar with them yet!
Now, I believe that supporting and promoting cellular agriculture, lab grown meats, biotechnology and animal friendly alternatives, we can achieve more than all animal advocacy groups put together. If we can have dairy, eggs, meats and seafood in supermarkets when they do not come from exploited and slaughtered animals AND they are the same products, only CHEAPER and BETTER for the environment, for the ANIMALS and for OUR HEALTH, I have no doubt people will opt for them. Yes, I did say cheaper. I think it’s a key factor. At the very least, very affordable for everyone. Most people would choose these products then and billions of animals will be saved. The amount of suffering will be dramatically reduced. This is the most impactful revolution our planet is yet to witness.
It ought to be better for our health as it is made in a cleaner place, with much better control over the production of the food. It will be better for the environment because animal agriculture is one of the key factors in climate change, amongst other things. Check out my article “Your future is animal friendly” for details and science based evidence.
What can you do now?
If you can financially support one of the companies I mentioned above, go for it. If not, I encourage you to subscribe to their newsletters and talk about the prospect of better dairy, meat, eggs and seafood around you with enthusiasm and optimism.
Other The Animalist articles on the topic:
People who care about animals have every reason to embrace science and technology.medium.com
Ryan Bethencourt, Biohacker, Investor and Entrepreneur.medium.com