Cellular Agriculture – Cultivated Meat

Cellular Agriculture – Cultivated Meat
Alternative Proteins

Panagiotis Vlachogiannis

Co- Founder of Cellular Agriculture Greece, Lecturer of Cellular Agriculture

Share it:

The food systems that feed the Global North depend on industrial agriculture, intensive livestock farming, and monocropping, and their global reach is growing. These methods alone will not be able to alleviate hunger and food insecurity. Higher-income countries’ diets are mainly dominated by meat, dairy, and processed foods, whereas impoverished people experience food access inequities.

Consumers are also concerned about the costs of industrial agriculture’s environmental, health, and animal welfare. To ensure that the growing global population has enough healthy protein to thrive the industry will have to maximize all sources of protein to feed the growing population and make our food production chain more resilient. Alternative proteins are another emerging solution besides, and not instead of, traditional animal farming.

Alternative proteins are a rapidly emerging solution for the future of food, but they are not intended to replace traditional animal farming entirely. Rather, they are an additional option that can supplement the protein supply and provide consumers with more sustainable choices.

Traditional animal farming has long been the primary source of protein for human consumption, but it has come under scrutiny in recent years due to concerns over environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and health. Alternative proteins, such as plant-based protein, insect protein, and cell-cultivated protein, offer a promising solution to these concerns.

Cultivated meat is one proposed solution for providing nutritious sources of animal-based protein without the disadvantages of conventional livestock farming for animal welfare and the environment.

It is improbable that traditional animal production alone would meet the rising population’s increased demand for meat and essential proteins. Technology advancement in cell-cultivated meat (and generally cellular agriculture) has grown over the previous ten years because experts now confirm that cell-cultivated meat can produce meat substitute products with a similar flavor, aroma, and nutritional value to conventional meat.

Cell-cultivated meat, also known as lab-grown or clean meat, is a form of meat that experts produce using cellular agriculture. This technology involves cultivating animal cells in a laboratory (at least for now) setting to create meat without the need to raise and breed animals.

Cell-cultivated meat has the potential to revolutionize the way we produce and consume meat. It is considered a more sustainable and ethical alternative to traditional meat production, requiring less land, water, and other resources to raise animals. Additionally, it eliminates many animal welfare concerns associated with factory farming.

Bringing delicious, cultivated protein into our plates is relatively simple. All meat products are composed of muscle and adipose (fat) tissue, and those tissues are blocks of cells grouped. The first step therefore in cultivated meat production is to get a sample of cells from the animal you are interested in tasting! 

While the idea of bringing delicious, cultivated protein to our plates may seem simple in theory, the actual process of producing cell-cultivated meat or other alternative proteins is still in the early stages of development and requires significant technical expertise and resources. According to recent news, only a handful of companies are set up to produce even a few kilograms of cell-cultivated meat. For now, only one of them has received approval to sell cell-cultivated meat in Singapore.

Cultivating meat or other proteins involves a complex process that requires the right combination of nutrients, growth factors, and environmental conditions to promote cell proliferation and create a product that is safe and palatable for human consumption. Achieving the right texture, flavor, and nutritional profile can be challenging and requires ongoing research and development.

In addition, the cost of producing cell-cultivated meat is still relatively high compared to traditional meat. As the technology advances and the process is scaled up, production costs are expected to decrease, but it will likely be some time before cell-cultivated meat becomes widely available and affordable to consumers.

Producing cell-cultivated meat begins with collecting cells from a living animal. These cells are then placed in a culture medium, which provides the necessary nutrients and growth factors to promote cell proliferation. The cells are then allowed to grow and multiply, and after a few weeks, they can be harvested and processed into meat.

There are several potential benefits to cell-cultivated meat. For one, it could reduce the environmental impact of traditional meat production. Cell-cultivated meat could significantly reduce the land, water, and energy needed to produce meat. Additionally, it could reduce many pollution and greenhouse gas emissions associated with factory farming.

Another potential benefit of cell-cultivated meat is that it could improve food security and provide a more stable food supply. With a growing global population and increasing demand for meat, traditional meat production may need help to keep pace. Cell-cultivated meat could be a more sustainable way to meet this demand and ensure everyone can access the protein they need.

Cell-cultivated meat is still in the early stages of development, and experts must overcome many technical and regulatory challenges before it can be widely available to consumers. However, with ongoing research and development, cell-cultivated meat could become a viable alternative to traditional meat.

There are several technical and regulatory challenges that must be overcome before cell-cultivated meat can become a viable alternative to traditional meat.

One of the main technical challenges is developing the right growth medium to promote cell proliferation and create a texture and flavor that mimics traditional meat. Additionally, the cost of production remains high, and the process must be scaled up to meet demand.

There are also several regulatory challenges that must be addressed, including safety concerns and labeling requirements. Cell-cultivated meat must meet the same safety standards as traditional meat and be approved by regulatory agencies such as the EFSA, FDA, and USDA. Additionally, consumers must be able to distinguish between cell-cultivated meat and traditional meat through clear and accurate labeling.

Despite these challenges, ongoing research and development in the field of cell-cultivated meat offer hope for the future. As technology advances and production costs decrease, cell-cultivated meat has the potential to become a more accessible and sustainable alternative to traditional meat.

To conclude, cultivated meat has some compelling benefits. It could provide a more sustainable and ethical solution to the global meat crisis than traditional animal agriculture. However, some key concerns still need to be addressed before this revolutionary concept can take off. Only time will tell if cultivated meat will be worth the hype. Still, with the progress taking place, it certainly looks promising.

Further reading: 

Cellular Agriculture – Cultivated Meat

Cell-cultivated meat advantages and challenges ahead

Is Cultivated Meat Healthy and can Vegans eat it?

What are the Whitespaces of Cultivated Meat and How Can Farmers Contribute?

OUR PARTNERS

We join forces with N.G.O.s, Universities, and other organizations globally to fulfill our common mission on sustainability and human welfare.