Bill Gates invests in firm that develops meat in the laboratory, without live animals

Bill Gates invests in firm that develops meat in the laboratory, without live animals

According to a 2013 measurement of global emissions of greenhouse gases by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 14.5% of emissions resulting from human activities come from the raising of won. Knowing that product of these emissions global temperatures will increase on average from 2 to 5 ° C this century, assuming a dangerous turn without return to an uninhabitable Earth for man and millions of species, the equation seems simple. Fewer cattle equals more years on Earth for man.

With this in mind, a series of technological initiatives have been launched in recent years to develop meat in a laboratory, or rather, in a laboratory dish, without the need to raise animals (its contaminant footprint is basically composed of emissions of methane from its excrement and the use of water that its growth supposes) for it. Imagine a hamburger generated from cell cultures in a laboratory, which develops like any other tissue in the body of a cow; only that they achieve it outside of it.

And although these ventures, as we said above, are not exactly new, and have so far reported very slow rates of growth and development of meat, an important economic injection received this week by one of these start-ups could end up serving us a laboratory burger as soon as in the next decade.

Investment of prestige

Memphis Meats has just benefited from the investment of US $ 17 million from Bill Gates and Richard Branson, successful technology entrepreneurs, as well as others interested in the Tesla and SpaceX firms, the entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Steve Jurvetson, partner of DFJ Venture Capital, who led the investment round, wrote in his blog on Medium : “More than a substitute for meat, they will sell real meat, without harming any animal, without producing methane, without inefficient conversion of No waste of land, fertilizers, antibiotics or excessive use of water The goal of the product is to do this at a much lower cost than the current breeding of animals and with better flavor, nutritional value and environmental benefit Today [Memphis] Meats] produce duck, chicken and beef and should be able to produce all meats by the same methods. “

Jurvetson, who will now head the company’s board, one of the pioneers in clean meat production adds that meat production is a trillion dollar sector that controls an even larger share of global resources: 1/3 of arable land, ¼ of methane production (the potent greenhouse gas) and the inefficient consumption of food that could feed 4 billion people. The potential of Memphis Meats to be 10 to 100 times more efficient with its techniques does not seem unattainable when one sees the resources necessary to cultivate the meat.

Real or lying meat?

It is a tissue that at the cellular level is equal to the muscle of the animal, which is achieved in the laboratory by providing sugar, oxygen and nutrients to cells of real tissues. Compared to conventional meat production, the signature process involves the use of only 1% of land and 10% of water. Even so, production is more expensive, so it is expected that the investment will allow developing methods that cheapen the process.

Forbes reports that since March, the company calculated that it could produce 1 pound of chicken meat for less than US $ 9,000, which is roughly half of what it would cost to produce 1 pound of its meatballs in 2016. Although the costs are not they are still competitive, they do register a dramatic drop in relation to the cost of the firm’s first clean meat burger, which cost $ 300,000 in 2013.

Other initiatives in the same line are those of Mosa Meats and Hampton Creek, which, like Memphis Meats, create tissues from animal cells; while Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods aspire to develop clean meat from vegetable tissues and cells.

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