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posted by mrpg on Friday March 17 2017, @09:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the replicant-food dept.

A company called Memphis Meats has announced that it has developed artificial/synthetic/lab-grown/cultured chicken and duck meat. The company's press release says it plans to sell cultured meat products to consumers as soon as 2021. Duck is identified as key to the mainland China market, which consumes more of it (over 6 billion pounds annually) than the rest of the world combined:

The quest for artificial meat inches forward—the company Memphis Meats announced today it has developed chicken and duck meat from cultured cells of each bird, producing "clean poultry." The firm provided few details, although participants at a tasting reportedly said the chicken tasted like, well, chicken. Below is a repost of a story originally published 23 August 2016 on some of the regulatory challenges and questions facing Memphis Meats and other companies pursuing artificial meats.

[...] So far, none of these synthetic foods has reached the marketplace. But a handful of startup companies in the United States and elsewhere are trying to scale up production. In the San Francisco Bay area in California, entrepreneurs at Memphis Meats hope to have their cell-cultured meatballs, hot dogs, and sausages on store shelves in about 5 years, and those at Perfect Day are targeting the end of 2017 to distribute cow-free dairy products. It's not clear, however, which government agencies would oversee this potential new food supply.

Historically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates meat, poultry, and eggs, whereas the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees safety and security for food additives. FDA also approves so-called biologics, which include products made from human tissues, blood, and cells, and gene therapy techniques. But emerging biotechnologies may blur those lines of oversight, because some of the new foods don't fit neatly into existing regulatory definitions. "Cellular culture raises a lot of questions," says Isha Datar, CEO of New Harvest, a New York City–based nonprofit founded to support this nascent industry.

To help provide answers, the White House last year launched an initiative to review and overhaul how U.S. agencies regulate agricultural biotechnology [DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6244.131] [DX]. And the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, D.C., is working on a broader study of future biotechnology developments and regulation, with a report slated for release at the end of this year. In the meantime, industry leaders are thinking about how their potential lab-based foods might be handled by regulators. One approach, they tell ScienceInsider, is to show that their product is similar to an existing product that testing has already shown to pose no hazards. "Most food regulation is about aligning new products with something that's already recognized as safe," Datar notes.

Related: Producing Beef has the Greatest Impact on the Environment Compared to Other Animal Based Foods
Real Vegan Cheese: Coming From a Yeast to You
Would You Try Silicon Valley's Bloody Plant Burger(s)?
Lab-Grown Pork Closer to Reality

Right now, manufactured meat is as real as a flying car.
- Anonymous Coward, 2014

Original Submission

Related Stories

Producing Beef has the Greatest Impact on the Environment Compared to Other Animal Based Foods 43 comments

Research into the environmental impact of animal-based foods has concluded that beef has the greatest impact by a large margin (Full text [pdf]).

When the numbers were in, including those for the environmental costs of different kinds of feed (pasture, roughage such as hay, and concentrates such as corn), the team developed equations that yielded values for the environmental cost per calorie and then per unit of protein, for each food.

The calculations showed that the biggest culprit, by far, is beef. That was no surprise, say Milo and Shepon. The surprise was in the size of the gap: In total, eating beef is more costly to the environment by an order of magnitude about ten times on average than other animal-derived foods, including pork and poultry. Cattle require on average 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water, are responsible for releasing 5 times more greenhouse gases, and consume 6 times as much nitrogen, as eggs or poultry. Poultry, pork, eggs and dairy all came out fairly similar. That was also surprising, because dairy production is often thought to be relatively environmentally benign. But the research shows that the price of irrigating and fertilizing the crops fed to milk cows as well as the relative inefficiency of cows in comparison to other livestock jacks up the cost significantly.

Manufactured Meat is a Flying Car by Anonymous Coward
Real Vegan Cheese: Coming From a Yeast to You 82 comments

Wired has a profile of "Real Vegan Cheese", a product emerging from Counter Culture Labs in Oakland, California. The DIY/biotech lab is using genetically modified yeast cells to produce 11 proteins normally found in cow's milk, which can then be used to create synthetic cheese.

The genetic engineering approach to cheese has been enabled by the rapidly falling cost of DNA synthesis. It now costs less than $0.25 per base pair to obtain a custom DNA sequence which can be delivered by mail. Why make vegan cheese using yeast? Cheesemaking is an artisanal process with centuries of history and one of the earliest examples of human-directed microbiology. Existing plant-based vegan cheeses can't reproduce the casein proteins needed to achieve a passable cheese. However, Real Vegan Cheese will not use animal fat or lactose.

The process is not limited to bovine cheese:

When I visit the lab, I discover the cheese team includes a biologist, a bioethicist, a retired clinical psychologist, an accountant, and a former Apple marketer. "This to me is a natural extension of computer culture," says Maria Chavez, the ex-Apple employee and a leader of the vegan cheese project. "What is bigger to hack than our bodies and our environment? It's one of the last big frontiers. The possibilities are exciting."

The possibilities include not just vegan cow cheese, but, well, vegan human cheese. The same basic process for synthesizing cow's milk applies to milk from any other mammal. You just need different genes. Cheese made from engineered human breast milk may not sound like a top seller at the deli counter. But the team says it can serve a practical purpose: Human milk cheese could offer an option to people who have allergies to non-human dairy products. (Chavez said the group has put its experiments with human milk on hold due to Food and Drug Administration concerns about possible autoimmune reactions.)

The team is also attempting to create a narwhal cheese, after achieving the stretch goal on Indiegogo. The recipe and experiments involved will be released as "open source"; the DNA sequence(s) will be submitted to iGEM's Registry of Standard Biological Parts.

Critics of synthetic foods worry about the use of GMOs and the lightly regulated nature of biotechnology labs and hackerspaces. The Real Vegan Cheese team notes that the cheese itself isn't a GMO, only the yeast is. Other recent forays into synthetic food include Muufri's synthetic milk, and Evolva's vanilla/vanillin and saffron substitutes.

Would You Try Silicon Valley's Bloody Plant Burger(s)? 49 comments

Several startups are trying to take plant-based meat alternatives to a new level. They include Impossible Foods, which has created a meatless burger that contains heme, a molecule that contributes color, taste, and texture to meat:

This summer, diners in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles will get their hands on a hamburger that's been five years in the making. The burger looks, tastes and smells just like beef — except it's made entirely from plants. It sizzles on the grill and even browns and oozes fat when it cooks. It's the brainchild of former Stanford biochemist Patrick Brown and his research team at Northern California-based Impossible Foods.

[...] It's not the only faux meat company selling bloody plant patties. Last month, Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat made headlines when it released the Beyond Burger, its pea protein burger that sizzles like real meat and "bleeds" beet juice. The burgers quickly sold out after debuting at a Whole Foods in Boulder, Colo. Beyond Meat's investors include Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates is also backing Impossible Foods. So is billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and Google Ventures. All told, the company has raised some $182 million in seed funding. Last year, Impossible Foods turned down Google's offer to buy the company for $200 to $300 million.

The Impossible Burger is more than just peas and carrots smashed together: It's the result of some pretty high-tech research. Brown's team analyzes meat at a molecular level to determine what makes a burger taste, smell and cook the way it does. He wants his burgers to be squishy while raw, then firm up and brown on the grill. He believes everything from an animal's fat tissue to muscle cells can be replicated using plant compounds.

The true test? Making the plant-based substance carcinogenic.

Original Submission

Lab-Grown Pork Closer to Reality 24 comments

Scientists from the University of Missouri, the University of Maryland and the Animal Bioscience and Biotechnology Laboratory, US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service have published an article in Nature outlining a method for "generating skeletal muscle efficiently from porcine induced pluripotent stem cells (piPSC) in vitro thereby providing a versatile platform for applications ranging from regenerative biology to the ex vivo cultivation of meat". The research used a porcine stem cell line to generate muscular tissue instead of cells taken directly from a pig:

"What the paper describes is research designed to generate muscle from a newly established pig stem-cell line, rather that from primary cells taken directly from a pig," co-author Dr. Nicholas Genovese, a stem-cell biologist (and vegetarian), told Digital Trends. "This entailed understanding the biology of relatively uncharacterized and recently-derived porcine induced pluripotent stem cell lines. What conditions support cell growth, survival and differentiation? These are all questions I had to figure out in the lab before the cells could be turned into muscle."

Also at GlobalMeatNews.

Enhanced Development of Skeletal Myotubes from Porcine Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (open, DOI: 10.1038/srep41833) (DX)

Original Submission

Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson Backed Memphis Meats Expects Meat From Cells in Stores by 2021 39 comments

Submitted via IRC for takyon

Cargill Inc., one of the largest global agricultural companies, has joined Bill Gates and other business giants to invest in a nascent technology to make meat from self-producing animal cells amid rising consumer demand for protein that's less reliant on feed, land and water.

Memphis Meats, which produces beef, chicken and duck directly from animal cells without raising and slaughtering livestock or poultry, raised $17 million from investors including Cargill, Gates and billionaire Richard Branson, according to a statement Tuesday on the San Francisco-based startup's website. The fundraising round was led by venture-capital firm DFJ, which has previously backed several social-minded retail startups.

They made the first ever chicken and duck meat that were produced without the animals.

The company expects to have a product in stores by 2021.

"They're the leader in clean meat. There's no one else that far along," says venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, whose firm led Memphis Meats' recent $17 million Series A. Before he met Valeti in 2016, Jurvetson spent almost five years researching lab-grown meat and meat alternatives, believing the market was set to explode. "They're the only one that convinced me they can get to a price point and a scale that would make a difference in the industry," he says.

Cargill is the largest privately held corporation in the United States in terms of revenue ($109.7 billion in 2017).


Previously: Lab-Grown Chicken (and Duck) Could be on the Menu in 4 Years

Related: Lab-grown meat would 'cut emissions and save energy'
Producing Beef has the Greatest Impact on the Environment Compared to Other Animal Based Foods
Real Vegan Cheese: Coming From a Yeast to You
Would You Try Silicon Valley's Bloody Plant Burger(s)?
Lab-Grown Pork Closer to Reality

Original Submission

U.S. Cattlemen's Association Wants an Official Definition of "Meat" 80 comments

The U.S. Cattlemen's Association has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop an official definition for terms like "meat" and "beef", as plant-based alternatives to meats continue to grow in popularity and lab-grown/cultured meat may be coming soon:

Companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are combining plant-based ingredients and science, rather than animals, to create fake-meat burgers and other products that taste like the real thing.

Now U.S. Cattlemen's Association is looking to draw a line in the sand. The association launched what could be the first salvo in a long battle against plant-based foods. Earlier this month, the association filed a 15-page petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling for an official definition for the term "beef," and more broadly, "meat."

"While at this time alternative protein sources are not a direct threat to the beef industry, we do see improper labeling of these products as misleading," said Lia Biondo, the association's policy and outreach director. "Our goal is to head off the problem before it becomes a larger issue."

[...] While these foods are commonly dubbed "fake meat," there's a little more to the meat-substitute market than that. The Good Food Institute, which advocates a sustainable food supply, breaks it down into two categories: clean meat and plant-based meat. Clean meat refers to "meat" grown in a lab from a small amount of animal stem cells. This kind of meat isn't on the market yet, but it's in development. Plant-based meat is anything that mimics traditional meat but is made mainly using plant ingredients.

Here's an idea: define "meat" for the Cattlemen's Association, then tax it with an exemption for "lab-grown meat".

Related: Lab-Grown Pork Closer to Reality
Lab-Grown Chicken (and Duck) Could be on the Menu in 4 Years
Inside the Strange Science of the Fake Meat that 'Bleeds'
Impossible Foods Just Raised $75 Million for Its Plant-based Burgers
Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson Backed Memphis Meats Expects Meat From Cells in Stores by 2021
Meat Tax Proposed for Sake of Human and Environmental Health.

Original Submission

Regulation Coming to Lab-Grown Meat 25 comments

Don't listen to Big Cattle — lab-grown meat should still be called "meat"

Lab-grown meat is on its way, and the government is trying to figure out how to regulate it. This week, the US House of Representatives [pdf] released a draft spending bill that proposes that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulate lab-grown meat and figure out how it should be labeled — which is a contentious topic since Big Cattle doesn't want it to be called "meat." Regulation is important, and there's plenty more to learn, but the USDA shouldn't be the only one regulating. And when the product comes to market, yes, it should be called "meat."

Traditional meat, of course, comes from animals that are raised and slaughtered. Lab-grown meat (also called "in-vitro meat," "cultured meat," or "clean meat") is made from animal stem cells grown in a lab. But because the stem cells are typically fed with a serum derived from the blood of calf fetuses, the product uses animal products and isn't vegan. Still, the pitch for lab-grown meat is that it saves animals and also helps the environment because lab-grown meat doesn't take much land or energy to grow. Plus, lab-grown meat doesn't directly create methane emissions, while methane emissions from cows accounted for 16 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2015.

Because of the way that government agencies work, it hasn't even been clear who should regulate lab meat. The USDA traditionally regulates meat, while the US Food and Drug Administration regulates food safety and additives. The proposal that the USDA be in charge of regulation is in line with what the [pdf] National Cattlemen's Beef Association wanted, but some lab-meat advocates fear that USDA will be biased against them in favor of traditional meat. If the USDA will be regulating lab meat, it should at least collaborate with the FDA. There are no slaughterhouses for the USDA to inspect anyway, and the FDA has already been regulating food technology, like the genetically engineered salmon it approved. It makes the most sense for the two to work together.

Previously: U.S. Cattlemen's Association Wants an Official Definition of "Meat"

Related: Lab-Grown Chicken (and Duck) Could be on the Menu in 4 Years
Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson Backed Memphis Meats Expects Meat From Cells in Stores by 2021
'Soylent' Dawkins? Atheist Mulls 'Taboo Against Cannibalism' Ending as Lab-Grown Meat Improves

Original Submission

Lab-Grown Meat: Never Cost-Competitive? 42 comments

Lab-grown meat is supposed to be inevitable. The science tells a different story.

Splashy headlines have long overshadowed inconvenient truths about biology and economics. Now, extensive new research suggests the industry may be on a billion-dollar crash course with reality.

[...] [In March], the Good Food Institute (GFI), a nonprofit that represents the alternative protein industry, published a techno-economic analysis (TEA) that projected the future costs of producing a kilogram of cell-cultured meat. Prepared independently for GFI by the research consulting firm CE Delft, and using proprietary data provided under NDA by 15 private companies, the document showed how addressing a series of technical and economic barriers could lower the production price from over $10,000 per pound today to about $2.50 per pound over the next nine years—an astonishing 4,000-fold reduction.

In the press push that followed, GFI claimed victory. "New studies show cultivated meat can have massive environmental benefits and be cost-competitive by 2030," it trumpeted, suggesting that a new era of cheap, accessible cultured protein is rapidly approaching. The finding is critical for GFI and its allies. If private, philanthropic, and public sector investors are going to put money into cell-cultured meat, costs need to come down quickly. Most of us have a limited appetite for 50-dollar lab-grown chicken nuggets.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @09:58AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @09:58AM (#480322)

    You can bet this will at best be like injected meat. More likely, it will be like McNugget filling. The nutrient solution probably contains corn and soy that is not even processed by a stomach.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday March 17 2017, @11:40AM (3 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Friday March 17 2017, @11:40AM (#480344) Journal

      Fast forward to 2021. If they can get the store price down to $10/lb ($22/kg) or less, will you try half a pound of it?

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
      • (Score: 2) by looorg on Friday March 17 2017, @12:08PM (2 children)

        by looorg (578) on Friday March 17 2017, @12:08PM (#480352)

        I'm not sure how inflation will adjust the price of chicken within the next five years but unless it's about to double that will be quite expensive. You can get chicken for less then half that today. So unless this lab-grown stuff is substantially cheaper (and better) then real chicken I really don't see the market for it except as some kind of novelty.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday March 17 2017, @12:33PM (1 child)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Friday March 17 2017, @12:33PM (#480361) Journal

          Go to the store and look at organic meats or vegetarian/vegan meat alternative products. They are priced quite high. For example, organic chicken breasts are $5-6/lb at Costco [], and that's a bulk buy.

          Obviously, in challenging the AC, I am setting an upper bound on the price while assuming it will probably decline over time to something far more reasonable than $10/lb. I think it's reasonable to spend $5 one-time on this particular novelty just to disprove poor expectations of taste/quality. If it was $40-50/lb [], you would probably wait instead.

          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
          • (Score: 2) by looorg on Friday March 17 2017, @03:07PM

            by looorg (578) on Friday March 17 2017, @03:07PM (#480428)

            I see your point.But then it's a very niche product as alternative "chicken" meat for vegetarians and then the price range as noted is quite different. I have not tried a lot of the meat substitutes besides Quorn (which is some kind of mushroom proteins as far as I can recall - it was mostly tasteless - not in bad way but in a pure flavor way) and it's about twice as expensive as just buying beef. In such a case this grown chicken meats will never be or become an alternative to actual chickens since they are quite cheap already - unless they can really crank up the production and get the prices down that way.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @11:58AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @11:58AM (#480347)

      The nutrient solution probably contains corn and soy that is not even processed by a stomach.

      I'm confused as to how to interpret your sentence and what you are complaining about. Mind enlightening me? By 'not even processed by a stomach' do you mean stuff that our human stomachs can't digest in our stomachs, or do you mean plant material that was not processed previously by a stomach before being turned into meat?

      The first does not make much sense to me because it seems like eating stuff that our bodies do not digest (and thus passes directly to the exit, instead of being stored as fat) would actually be quite helpful to combat obesity. Also corn is frequently associated with corn syrup, which is basically sugar and does get digested and does seems to be one of the causes of obesity and poor health. Putting stuff that into artificial meat would indeed be a problem.

      The second does not make much sense to me either. Do you mean to say that it is important to you that food went through a stomach first before being turned into meat? Because if so, that means you need an animal with a stomach, to turn plant based material into meat over the course of its lifetime. That basically defeats the whole concept of artificial meat, which is to increase efficiency and reduce environmental impact by circumventing that entire wasteful process by growing raw meat in a lab or factory instead.

      As for me, if they can get it where it looks, tastes, feels and smells like meat and contains roughly the same nutrients, then I'll be perfectly happy with artificial meat. That's a big IF of course.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mth on Friday March 17 2017, @12:07PM

      by mth (2848) on Friday March 17 2017, @12:07PM (#480351) Homepage

      I expect there will be different brands, where some will have all kinds of cheaper ingredients mixed in and others will be pure synth meat and sold at a premium.

    • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Friday March 17 2017, @11:54PM

      by butthurt (6141) on Friday March 17 2017, @11:54PM (#480702) Journal

      > The nutrient solution probably contains corn and soy that is not even processed by a stomach.

      That's what I expected, too. However it's been proposed, elsewhere, that tissue cultures could be nourished by a hydrolysate of ocean-grown cyanobacteria, so that little land or fresh water would be used. []

      I would think that if such a hydrolysate can nourish mammalian or avian tissue cultures, it could be eaten directly by humans. I assume it would be green in colour...

      Cyanobacteria, as I posted in an earlier story, are eaten directly by humans.

      / []

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Phoenix666 on Friday March 17 2017, @10:49AM (3 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday March 17 2017, @10:49AM (#480334) Journal

    Never! If we don't eat them, who's gonna keep the dinosaurs down? Them Chicken sumbitches still got another 50 million years of payback comin' for eatin' great grandpappy.

    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @11:21AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @11:21AM (#480339)

      Does it taste like chicken?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @07:43PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @07:43PM (#480583)

        More like Tasty Wheat.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2017, @06:39AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 18 2017, @06:39AM (#480782)

        My guess it will taste like a McNugget, which is a chicken-flavored wad of toilet paper.

  • (Score: 2) by Anne Nonymous on Friday March 17 2017, @03:15PM (2 children)

    by Anne Nonymous (712) on Friday March 17 2017, @03:15PM (#480436)

    > Duck is identified as key to the mainland China market

    Now if they could only produce rhino horn cells.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bob_super on Friday March 17 2017, @04:23PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Friday March 17 2017, @04:23PM (#480486)

      Having invented both fake ivory and the little blue pill is sadly not stopping demand...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @06:05PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @06:05PM (#480527)

      Cause the billion+ Chinese people isn't enough?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @08:24PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17 2017, @08:24PM (#480602)

    Neither chicken nor duck are at their best as boneless, skinless wads of flesh. If all you're trying to do is check off a protein content box on your standard issue carboniferous lifeform intake schedule, then have at it.

    If you actually want to like what you eat, you'll need skin as well, and probably bones as well.

    Wake me when they solve that problem, because I won't be cooking up stock from the plastic packaging.