Australian-based meat firm Vow has showcased a giant meatball made from the flesh of an extinct woolly mammoth, grown in a lab, at the NEMO science museum in Amsterdam. The meatball was put under a glass bell jar, giving the public a chance to view the breakthrough in the field of meat production.
Lab-Grown Meat Takes Over
Scientists who grew the meat are hoping that the protein from the past will pave the way for future foods. They claim that the glistening meatball shows the world what is possible with lab-grown meat. However, safety testing is needed before modern humans can try it as the protein is thousands of years old.
The Future of Meat Production
Co-founder of Vow, Tim Noakesmith, says the reason they chose to grow woolly mammoth meat was that it represents the loss of a species wiped out by climate change. Noakesmith believes that our fate could be similar if we don’t change practices such as large-scale farming and consumption patterns. The meat was cultivated by scientists over several weeks, who first identified the DNA sequence for mammoth myoglobin, a key protein that gives the meat its flavor. The mammoth’s closest living relative, the African elephant, was used to fill in some gaps in the sequence of the mammoth myoglobin by using genes. The scientists then inserted this into sheep cells using an electrical charge, and the meat was grown.
Cultured Meat is the Future
Although it might sound strange, lab-grown meat is becoming increasingly popular among food scientists. Christopher Bryant, a British-based expert in alternative proteins, says that cultivated meat is produced with extreme precision in sanitized food production facilities, unlike conventional meat, which comes from dirty and unpredictable animals. As a result, cultured meat avoids the foodborne pathogens, antibiotics, and other contaminants frequently found in meat from animals.
As global meat consumption has almost doubled since the early 1960s, food scientists are exploring alternatives such as plant-based meats and lab-grown meat. Meat consumption is projected to increase more than 70% by 2050. Vow, which plans to launch its first product, lab-grown Japanese quail in Singapore in a few months, is attempting to redefine what cultured meat is. The startup is not trying to stop people from eating meat, but instead, it aims to give them something better and more sustainable. The mammoth meatball aims to draw attention to the fact that the future of food can be better and more sustainable.
Neil Stephens, a senior lecturer in technology and society at the University of Birmingham, believes that the mammoth meatball tries to stress how different the technology is. He suggests a future where we eat meat that is completely different from what we eat today, made from species we’ve never been in contact with.
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