“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.”
That is how Ahmed Khan, the co-founder and member of the board of directors of Cellular Agriculture Canada, a non-profit organisation advancing and promoting the cellular agriculture industry in Canada, sums it up. The founder and editor of CellAgri, a news and market insights startup focusing on the future of food with cellular agriculture, Ahmed is my guest today on Inside Ideas.
It’s all about communication, and radical transparency to make sure that people understand their food system.
Explaining the science behind this emerging sector, Ahmed 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 Ahmed, companies in the cell agriculture field need to do more to communicate the environmental benefits of this innovation to the wider public.
“Not just in terms of how the product is made – the one, two, three steps on how we can take a cell and make it into meat,” he said. “But also this idea of why. Why are companies looking to do this? Why are scientists so excited about the idea of applying cutting-edge cell biology to the food sector. Why are we looking into this?”
Ahmed 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.”
This leading cellular agriculture consultant is doing all he can to get the message out there, through CellAgri, which provides the latest news and insights on a range of topics and trends relating to the cellular agriculture field. CellAgri’s platform also tracks all the major and upcoming players shaping the field.
Ahmed, who first learned about cellular agriculture while studying at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, speaks to audiences worldwide on the subject and I am delighted to have him join me today to learn more about the potential of this burgeoning sector.