Imagine sinking your teeth into hearty chicken sandwich with meat that's not from a live animal but rather grown from cells in a lab. Super gross or super innovative?
SuperMeat, a biotechnology startup based in Israel, is seeking to revolutionize the way people consume food -- via cultured meat. Their goal: minimize carbon emissions and increase food safety worldwide.
They’ve even launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and raised over $63,000 to-date.
What Is Cultured Meat, Exactly?
“Cultured meat, also known as cell-cultured meat or in-vitro meat, is produced from animal cells that are grown to vast numbers from a single biopsy, taken without hurting the animal itself,” says SuperMeat.
A team of scientists then incubate the cells in an environment that mimics the natural body of the animal, enrich the cells with nutrients while they grow into a ready-to-eat piece of animal meat, explains the company.
What's Wrong With the Way We're Currently Producing Meat
Global meat production and consumption have continuously been on the rise -- with worldwide meat production tripling over the last four decades, according to Worldwatch Institute. This trend has caused concerning health and environmental issues around the world.
“Large-scale meat production […] has serious implications for the world’s climate,” says Worldwatch Institute. “Animal waste releases methane and nitrous oxide, greenhouse gases that are 25 and 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, respectively.”
Wide-scale antibiotic used in livestock has contributed to antibiotic resistance in animals and humans, and overcrowding in factory farms has spurred the rise of illness and disease in animals, which can – and has -- led to human infections (think: swine flu influenza).
How Cultured Meat Can Totally Innovate the Industry
SuperMeat seeks to produce lab-grown food to significantly reduce carbon emissions, but that’s not the only benefit.
1. Improved Food Safety
According to SuperMeat, cultured meat is healthier because it’s grown under clean and closely monitored conditions. This increases general hygiene in meat production, and prevents pandemics. They can even produce reduced fat or nonfat meat.
2. Increased Food Availability
Besides envisioning cultured meat being sold in stores, SuperMeat also seeks to produce it in homes.
“The world population is expected to reach around 9.6 billion by 2050. With the way things are going, there won’t be enough livestock to feed that many people," says the company. “[Cultured meat’s] accessibility means those less fortunate in countries with a scarcity of food will benefit immensely."
3. Reduced Production Costs
Mass producing cultured meat is less expensive than growing and feeding billions of animals, according to SuperMeat. “Our system will eventually enable every household to have its own meat cultivation machine and be able to create its own SuperMeat meals.”
When Can We Get Our Hands on Some?
While SuperMeat will ultimately need $2.5 million to be able to produce a cost-efficient prototype, they estimate that they can reach this target in about three years, at the start of 2018.
And as to when you can walk into a store and purchase lab-grown chicken? The company is aiming to make this happen in just five short years: 2021.
What Do YOU Think?
How do you feel about meat grown in a laboratory? Do you agree that it’s a better, more practical alternative to how we currently consume meat? And more importantly -- would you try it? Tell us in the comments!