Food tech startup Aleph Farms has become the first to produce lab-grown meat — also called clean meat and cultured meat — in space.
Lab meat is produced by in vitro cultivation of animal cells. The end result is a product that is identical to real meat. It’s possible to complete the process without harming any animals.
The planet is entering a “food security crisis,” according to Aleph Farms. The Israeli clean meat company believes its product could be a solution to the crisis. It set out to prove that clean meat could be grown anywhere, even with limited resources.
The startup — which made a name for itself when it produced the world’s first lab-grown steak — produced small-scale muscle tissue from cow cells on the International Space Station, 248 miles away from any natural resources. Aleph Farms used equipment supplied by Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions.
Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms, said in a statement, “In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 liters (3962.58 gallons) of water available to produce one kg (2.205 pounds) of beef.”
“This joint experiment marks a significant first step toward achieving our vision to ensure food security for generations to come, while preserving our natural resources,” Toubia added.
The breakthrough comes as more and more research points to animal agriculture as a leading driver of climate change. The meat industry generates more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s total transport sector. It’s also a leading cause of deforestation and ocean dead zones.
Lab-Grown Meat Reaching New Heights
Clean meat is not yet available to the public, however, the growing number of lab-grown meat producers are keen to remedy this. Australian company VOW wants to see its lab-grown kangaroo meat in supermarkets by the end of 2022. IntegriCulture Inc. says its slaughter-free foie gras will be available in restaurants by 2021. The Japanese startup aims for its products to be available from the consumer market by 2023.
A recent report by global consultancy AT Kearney said that most of the meat people eat will not come from slaughtered animals by 2040. Plant-based and lab-grown meat will make up 60 percent of all meat eaten.
“The large-scale livestock industry is viewed by many as an unnecessary evil,” the report said, later adding, “Cultured meat will win in the long run.”