• Lab-Grown Meat and the Future of Cellular Agriculture

    March 16, 2020 | Lindsay Ware
  • During this past year, the concept of lab-grown meats has created a tidal wave of commotion in the food industry. Consumer reactions range from utter disgust to sheer excitement as cruelty-free meat promises to hit the market. But alongside lab-grown meat comes the potential adoption of a food conception so bizarre and futuristic, it's hard to process: Cellular agriculture.

    Some consumers wonder why the push for cruelty-free meats is so pressing all of a sudden. But the truth is, the global population is skyrocketing, with an estimated 1 billion additional people over the next 12 years. With that influx of people comes a need for more protein-rich foods, animals included. The demand for more meat and sustainable crops for the growing population will far exceed our earthly potential if food innovation is not placed at the forefront of our scientific experimentation.

    Recent success with the concept of lab-grown meat is offering hope for the near future. On a large-scale, it could prove as a method to produce food for the expanding population, all while remaining cruelty-free. There are numerous benefits on the horizon of cellular agriculture, and the possibilities are definitely not lacking. But how is it possible, and what will it look like?

  • Lab-Grown Meat: The Leader in Cellular Agriculture

  • Meat consumption is at an all-time high. On average, each American eats about 220 pounds of meat per year. Pair that with a population of 327 million people, and it's no wonder concerns over livestock consumption are mounting. Plus, on top of the US, European countries are huge consumers of meat, and recent reports say that developing countries aren't far behind. 

  • That's where lab-grown meats come in. Theoretically, the outcome will be the same; Delicious, protein-rich meat products for consumers to enjoy. The process, however, will be far from traditional. The use of land, water, and pollution-causing techniques would be made obsolete, and the products will be able to be produced within a lab-like setting. No more animal slaughtering, and no need for agricultural land.

  • Lab-Grown Meat and the Future of 'Cellular Agriculture' | Virtuul News

    Lab-grown foods will be significantly better for the environment 

  • The actual process itself works by taking the cells of muscles from living animals and introducing them to a culture medium. When the cells come in contact with the culture, the environment tricks itself into producing as it would if it were still inside the animal. Then, under extremely controlled circumstances, the cells multiply their fibrous cells to create a sample of meat, just like one that comes directly from the animal. 

    It's been about six years now since the first successful lab-grown meat patty hit the press. Since then, increasingly impressive research is being conducted to bring the science of lab-grown meats beyond burger patties and into all areas of the culinary industry. The results? A new wave of cellular agriculture so close, we can almost taste it. 

  • Cellular Agriculture: Taking the Animal Out of the Product

  • Lab-grown, cultured foods aren't just for vegans anymore. Instead, they'll cater to animal activists, allergy sufferers, and eco-conscious consumers alike, with the same taste and textures that we know and love. The future of cellular agriculture is rapidly outgrowing its meaty label and expanding into dairy and produce.

    Pioneering the research of lab-grown dairy cultures is Perfect Day Foods, based out of Silicon Valley. Their research and dedication to innovation successfully produced an "animal-free dairy protein." By using genetically modified yeast, Perfect Day produces the dairy protein without ever even using a sample of milk. The yeast's microflora goes to work fermenting sugar samples, which create the lactose-free, cholesterol-free, vegan protein.

  • Naturally, the success isn't going to stop there. Creating artisan cheeses and eggs without the chicken are all on the horizon, and there is definitely an audience for it. Putting taste aside, consumers are buzzing about lab-grown foods' potential to halt climate change and put an end to animal cruelty. And on top of that, lab-grown start-ups and food scientists are hinting at the potential for cellular agriculture to improve the nutritional value of some of our favorite foods.

  • Lab-Grown Meat and the Future of 'Cellular Agriculture' | Virtuul News

    The science behind cellular agriculture has the potential to expand to many other types of food, dairy included 

  • For starters, researchers from Finland's VTT Technical Research Center are taking the nutritional value of produce into their own hands. While we already know that fresh fruits contain numerous vitamins and antioxidants, we didn't know that those properties could be improved upon. But with samples and collections of fruit cultures, researchers are able to alter the structures of the cultures to create an even more "super" version of superfoods. 

  • Will Labs be the New Fields?

  • The concept of cellular agriculture is certainly attention-grabbing in our increasingly populated world. The demand for food is on an equal incline with the number of people, which is becoming alarmingly unsustainable. But, if our basic food staples could be grown instead of cultivated, we may be in a position to solve a problem before it has the chance to strike. 

    Another concern for the future of traditional agriculture is climate change. Each year, we're facing new environmental circumstances unlike anything we have dealt with before. It is even reported that for every degree of temperature increased, crops will yield 5 to 15 percent less than they normally would. As a result, crops are struggling to adjust, or are just dying off altogether. However, if we could harness the power of lab cultures to grow produce without the fields, we could preserve the majority of crops from climate-caused failures.

    While the title of cellular agriculture may cause some consumer hesitation for now, give it a few years. Just as with anything new and outrageous, it takes time for people to adjust. But this concept is one that really is for the greater good. And who knows, maybe you'll find that your lab-grown chicken nugget is actually tastier than McDonald's.