Mosa Meat, a Dutch-based start-up, is creating the first non-animal meat, fully produced in a laboratory.
This is not the company’s first attempt. Already in 2013, Professor Mark Post revealed the first steak entirely cultivated in a laboratory to the world. This results, following years of research, was mocked by the scientific community, because its production cost climbed up to a staggering 250 000 euros. However, this first attempt found the backing of Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google.
The company has been striving for 5 years to streamline and improve the production process. Stem cells are collected from a living animal: that is, the animal’s muscle satellite cells, or Myosatellite cells. These cells are the ones able to, for example, repair wounds. These cells are placed in nutrient baths, allowing them to multiply through the process normally triggered in real animals.
Scientists then place these cells in a bioreactor to stop the action of growth factors. The cells thus become muscular fibers. The cells are finally placed in a gel composed of 99% water and the final process enables muscular fibers to gradually become muscles.
By taking a single cell extract, the company claims that it can produce 800 million muscle strands or about 40 tons of meat. A feat that could have a huge impact on food production and access worldwide. With the human population set to hit 9 billion by 2050, food security is posing already a rising challenge for our species.
Artificial meat production through “cultivation” would allow humans to avoid the pollution, waste and resource-intensive processes that are associated with today´s global meat production and consumption. For example, a single steak requires several thousand liters of water for its production. In addition, this initiative would lead to greater respect for animal species currently fundamental for human access to protein.
Meanwhile, some questions remain unanswered. What will be the market price of this future stake? Will it satisfy consumer tastes? And once the production process is democratized, how can it be guaranteed without genetic modification?
This and many more questions are pending for Mosa Meat and the defenders of artificial meat as their vision get gradually closer to the supermarket fridges.
Made in collaboration with our partners from esanum.fr