When science and technology come together, both exciting and frightening things are bound to happen. A startup known as SuperMeat raises a lot of questions in this regard. It aims to develop lab-made chicken meat which will be labeled as “clean meat”. It’s an interesting concept that warrants further investigation.
The Era of Lab-grown Clean Chicken Meat
It is fairly obvious most consumers don’t want to think twice about what they are eating. More specifically, we don’t care how a chicken was raised, where it was slaughtered, or how it was treated. SuperMeat, an Israel-based startup, acknowledges something will have to change in this regard. The company wants to develop chicken meat inside a laboratory and ensure that it is “clean” at the same time.
While this concept may sound rather vague, the startup has done a lot of legwork already by raising the capital necessary to pursue this opportunity. Although US$3 million in seed funding may not sound like much, it is plenty of money with which to grow chickens in a lab environment. Whether or not SuperMeat will make any sort of impact on the overall market remains to be determined, though. For now, this is considered a niche market of niche markets, even though the concept may become mainstream a lot sooner than people think.
Clean meat is very different from what the name suggests, mind you. The goal is to transform the food industry in such a way that we can focus on food production in a scalable and more sustainable manner. Every piece of clean meat is grown in a lab using real animal cells. In this particular case, said cells are extracted from a chicken. By feeding the cells sufficient nutrients to produce muscle and fat, it becomes possible to create chicken meat.
As is always the case when a discussion revolves around lab-made meat, there are still a lot of questions which will need to be answered. Replacing slaughter animals will not happen overnight by any means, although it is evident this technology may provide a solution our society needs right now. Other benefits include reducing the industry’s environmental impact and addressing foodborne illness. A lot of research is still needed before all of these problems can be addressed, but for now, Supermeat seems to be on the right track to make a positive impact.
Most people are blissfully unaware of the increasing use of antibiotics in farming. Like humans, animals will develop resistances to such medicines sooner rather than later. A never-ending cycle of medicine, disease, and medicine could be created if things were to go awry. Switching over to clean meat is certainly an option worth exploring, although nothing has been set in stone just yet.
It will be interesting to see how Supermeat and its competitors fare in the race to create lab-grown clean meat. Moving away from its initial plan to grow whole organs in a controlled environment is certainly a smart decision. Especially when it comes to scaling such research, starting at the cellular level seemingly makes a lot more sense. Whether or not the rest of the world will agree with and approve of this new way of creating edibles is a different matter altogether.