In 2013, the world's first artificialA hamburger, a test tube hamburger, was cooked and tasted. Following this event in the press, many rumors about artificial meat appeared, saying that soon we would not have to kill animals for food at all. There was a thought that an artificial chicken and test tube bacon would appear in every small shop. But in reality, everything was not so: the era of such food is infinitely far from the current realities. Yes, the concept has been proven. The idea is cool. But who develops it?
Yes, and why would anyone suddenly want to eat meat from a test tube?
Our current meat consumption system works inthe edge is bad. It is unstable in the long run: today we use 30% of the Earth’s free ice land to feed on it the animals that provide us with protein. The livestock sector produces about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In general, the existing system offers too many opportunities to harm us: E. coli, Salmonella, antibiotic resistance, eutrophication, loss of biodiversity and air pollution are just a few items from the long list.
So, if we want meat, why can't we grow it? Why produce a whole living organism as an inefficient middleman?
Artificial meat offers the option of moresafe, healthy and killing-free meat, which is 100% identical to the usual, familiar to us. The technology of its production will have less adverse effects on the environment (otherwise why use it, right?), Reduce the need for scarce fresh water, land and fuel, and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the problem with antibiotics.
Not to mention the expected increase in overall efficiency.
As an example, startup Memphis Meatsplans to introduce artificial meat to the market and spend only three input calories to produce one calorie meat. This would be an important improvement over the conventional system, which, according to a startup, uses 23 calories to produce one calorie beef.
One would think that this area with suchwith great potential — to correct our not-the-best meat production system — is well funded and supported by billionaires, as well as at the federal level. But this is absolutely not the case.
Today, work in the field of artificial meatMost of them are supported by New Harvest, a tiny research institution supported by donations, which employs four full-time people. Despite all the difficulties, it is they who move this area forward:
- Organize the first conference on the so-called cellular agriculture (cellular agriculture)
- Finance the development of cultured chicken and turkey
- Financed the first research on the creation of artificial steak
These achievements are wonderful, but many problems stand in the way of commercializing this idea. Overcoming these problems will accelerate the appearance of cultured meat, turn it from an idea into a product.
Here are four things we must do to make the era of cultivated meat a reality.
There are two main scientific problems that we must solve.
a) provide cell lines for researchers;
Currently, researchers in the medicalthe space has easy access to the most needed cells; they simply open catalogs and order as needed. This is only possible because banks of various cell types were created in the past. Such banks for cultured meat does not exist. Thus, any researcher who wants to work on cultivated meat should create a cell line directly from the animal, and this is a complex and laborious process.
Just like you don't expect from a programmer,that he will write an operating system before creating applications, so we need to lower the barrier for researchers in the field of cultured meat by providing cell lines. Work on this has already begun. Professor Paul Mozdziak of the University of North Carolina and his graduate student Mary Gibbons received funding from New Harvest to create a cell line for turkey cells earlier this year.
Adequately laying the foundation, we createfavorable conditions for researchers to focus their brains, time and creativity on this difficult task of creating cultured meat products instead of cell lines.
b) the development of an inexpensive medium for the growth of cells without serum;
To grow animal cages outsideanimal, you need to simulate the habitat inside the animal. Today, this requires the use of fetal calf serum, a complex protein broth and growth factors, which, ironically, is obtained from the blood of a dead calf. In addition to the obvious ethical question, ETS is expensive, varies from batch to batch and can potentially be a source of pollution.
Stable, inexpensive, ethically pureThe ETS alternative is necessary if we want the cultivated meat to be competitive compared to ordinary meat. Scientists have been looking for a replacement for ETS for many years. For serious breakthroughs need serious funding.
We need engineers who can buildassistive technology for the development of cultured meat. The possibilities are enormous, so all the major sub-areas of engineering will be involved.
Today we need:
- Chemical engineers and biochemists to create effective bioreactors that can increase profitable production.
- Tissue engineers who can create biodegradable scaffolds on which cells will grow and hold.
Tomorrow we will need:
- Electromechanics for precise design of control systems. This is especially important since cells will thrive only under carefully controlled conditions.
- Civil engineers to create and manage the construction of processing plants, which will accommodate bioreactors.
- Mechanical engineers for the design, construction and testing of new oxygen mixing systems in bioreactors that will ensure uniform oxygen distribution throughout all cells.
Obviously, in order to build a knowledge base,we need more money and brains. This dozen academics, who are currently working on cellular agriculture, all over the world, are not enough. It is necessary to turn this area into an academic discipline. In the beginning, this may entail:
- Introductory courses and seminars at the university level.
- The emergence of a central open scientific journal that will contain all the research in this area.
- Development of a curriculum for a degree and, in the end, the creation of departments.
- Promotion of interdisciplinary projects, student clubs, competitions on meat cultivation.
People want to know what they eat and how this food is.produced. But nowadays the meat production system is invisible to most of us. Many of us have never been to farms that produce meat, which we then consume. Our love of meat keeps us blissfully unaware.
The more openness and cooperation the science of meat cultivation can offer, the faster we can enjoy it. Need to move.
Cultivated meat promises to help us.take a fresh look at this world. Abundance and stability may well be non-mutually exclusive concepts, especially when it comes to artificial meat. Very soon we will look around and be amazed at how inefficient, uncontrollable, it went destroying millions, billions of heads of live cattle. We will blame ourselves for not thinking about it before. In the end, the world of the future will not tolerate excesses. It will be accurately calculated in everything: in the treatment of accurately delivered drugs to the site of injury, in the expenditure of electricity, in the management of road transport. Meat is no exception.