The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $10 million in the country’s first-ever government backed research institute dedicated to cellular agriculture.
In a move welcomed by the Good Food Institute, the investment will help establish the new National Institute for Cellular Agriculture.
“Cell agriculture is the field of producing animal products like meat, dairy and even products like leather, directly from cells instead of raising animals for these exact same products,” Ahmed Khan, the co-founder and member of the board of directors of Cellular Agriculture Canada, explained on a recent episode of Inside Ideas.
The new American institute at Tufts will be led by the university’s renowned cultivated meat expert, Professor David Kaplan, with researchers from Virginia Tech, Virginia State, the University of California-Davis, MIT, and the University of Massachusetts-Boston also joining the venture, which aims to ‘expand the menu of climate-friendly protein options and improve food system resilience’.
“USDA’s historic funding for a National Institute for Cellular Agriculture is an important advancement for cultivated meat research and science,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. “I am pleased that USDA’s leadership continues to recognise the important role these technologies can play in combating climate change and adding much needed resiliency to our food system.”
There are many questions to be answered about any new innovation and Penn State researchers exploring some of them here came to the conclusion that cellular agriculture will either serve up climate-friendly alternatives, or trigger even greater socioeconomic inequalities.
While Ahmed Khan, founder and editor of CellAgri, a news and market insights startup, said on Inside Ideas that investment in the science needs to be complemented with effective communication.
He added: “From studies done in the past – if you explain to the public the ‘why’ – from the environmental and sustainability aspects, that this requires less resources than conventional animal agriculture for the same products, as well as the potential public health implications of the clean and sterile environment of using cells directly, people can understand why. It’s all about that communication, and radical transparency to make sure that people understand their food system. Context is everything and with food it matters so much more.”
For more on Ahmed’s insight on this burgeoning sector, catch up with the full podcast.