The food tech company that unveiled the world’s first-ever cultivated beef burger in 2013 has received European funding to progress an EU market for cell 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 the Inside Ideas podcast.
Producing beef this way is the focus of the ‘Feed for Meat’ project Mosa Meat, which presented that slaughter-free burger to the world in 2013, is running jointly with global animal nutrition and aquafeed company, Nutreco. The €2 million they have received via the REACT-EU fund will be used for research and development into lowering the cost of cultivated beef.
Peter Verstrate, Mosa Meat cofounder and COO, said: “We are honoured to be awarded this grant and look forward to catalyzing our research to reduce the costs of cell culture media. By replacing pharma-grade ingredients with food-grade ingredients, our team predicts cost reductions in the order of 100 times. Support from the government is a great contribution in bringing cultivated beef to the European market.”
The two companies leading the Feed for Meat project are striving for the highest yields in cell growth that generate the ‘lowest environmental impact’. Which they aim to do by ‘using byproducts from the food and feed industry and selecting the ingredients with the lowest environmental footprint’.
Nutreco CEO, Fulco van Lede added: “The grant is an important step towards commercialisation of cultivated meat. This project is perfectly aligned with our purpose of Feeding the Future. As we strive to feed a growing population in a safe and sustainable way, we will need to utilise a variety of new and emerging protein production methods alongside traditional farming. I’m thrilled that we have received the funding as this allows us to develop inputs for the cultivated meat industry to produce sustainably.”
The new funding follows the United States Department of Agriculture’s decision last week to invest $10 million in the country’s first-ever government backed research institute dedicated to cellular agriculture.
Your answers on cell agriculture
Explaining the science behind this emerging sector to Marc Buckley on Inside Ideas, Ahmed Khan said: “Instead of raising, let’s say – a cow, from birth for the meat, dairy and leather, you take cells and train those cells to produce the same products. One of the products that can be made through cell agriculture is meat. The way that works is you take a biopsy, a small injection from an animal, say a cow, and from that biopsy there are cells in that called stem cells, and those are cells that have the ability to divide into more cells, as well as specialising and differentiating – becoming different types of cells, like muscle cells and fat cells and other types of cells you find in meat products. Those stem cells are then put into a nutrient formulation called the cell culture media and, at scale – the stems cells and the cell culture media are placed in a large bio-reactor, and the output of that would be a cell-cultured meat product or what I call cell-based meat.”
For more on Ahmed’s insight on this burgeoning sector, catch up with the full podcast.