“We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.” This was said in 1931 by none other than Sir Winston Churchill. What sounded like science fiction back then is now reality: in 2013, the first beefburger grown from stem cells was test-eaten in London. Behind it was a team of researchers from Maastricht University led by Mark Post, now Chief Scientific Officer of Mosa Meat.
The Dutch may have been the first to introduce lab-grown meat to a wide audience, but today they are by no means the only ones. This becomes clear with a look at the GDI trend map that displays the most important startups in cell-based agriculture.
From San Francisco to Sydney and from London to Cape Town, startups are tinkering with the cultivation of animal proteins in the laboratory. “Cellular agriculture” is the name of the game, or CellAg for short. Today, hotspots can be found in the Bay Area of California and in Israel. But the industry is also growing inexorably in Europe and Southeast Asia. Since 2019, Switzerland has also had its own CellAg startup, Mirai Foods in Wädenswil on Lake Zurich, which is researching in-vitro meat.
Cellular agriculture has the potential to transform the entire value network of animal protein production. The animal is no longer part of the production – except when it comes to the removal of the stem cells. This production process takes place almost exclusively in the laboratory. Breeding, fattening, slaughtering and processing are being replaced by protein factories with bioreactors in which the stem cells are grown. The aim is to produce meat, fish, eggs and dairy products in a way that is not only more sustainable and animal-friendly, but also more cost-effective. However, there are still a number of hurdles to overcome before these products are ready for the market in terms of scalability, costs, regulatory approval and customer acceptance.
Farms, Labs and Beyond: Fixing a Broken Food System
– This conference will take place online –