Cultured meat & milk set to be next food revolution.by Opinion Express February 4, 2018 0 comments
Strange it may sound but milk can be produced without hen and meat without slaughtering animals. Welcome to the world of ‘cellular agriculture’ where products such as meat, milk, and eggs can be harvested from cell cultures instead of actual livestock. Recognizing it as a ‘sunrise’ technology that can cut down meat consumption, save cruel- ty on animals, and check climate change, the Narendra Modi Government will deliberate on the cellular agriculture at a workshop “Future of Life on Earth – Role of Disruptive Technologies” to be hosted by Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) on its 31st Foundation Day on February 10.
The TLFAC is autonomous body under the Union Science and Technology Ministry. “The technical session plarmed for TIFAC Foundation Day aims to capture various aspects of the Cellular agricul- ture technology among others. This technology leads to ani- mal-free, cultured and plant based versions of meat, milk, eggs and leather,” TIFAC Execntive Director Prabhat Ranjan told The Pioneer.In India, where a good percentage of population is vegan, there’s a huge potential for cellular agriculture.
“The aim of the session is to explore opportunities in the field here. If we focus on these alternate forms of animal products, we can save many resources detrimental to environment as well as create better acceptance by vegetarian segment of society from nutrition point of view and also reduction in cruelty towards animals,” he said.
Explaining the process for developing cultured meat or animal product, Ranjan said, “In cellular agriculture, certain items, like meat and leather, are produced by harvesting the cells themselves in their entirely. Animal products made of living or once-living cells can be made by growing large quantities of cells in a medium for them to grow in, and then putting those cells together to make food (for example, muscle and fat cells into meat) or materials( skin cells into leather).
The culturing process occurs under desirable conditions inside a bioreactor designed specifically for the purpose and preservatives are added to prevent microbial growth. An alternative approach is to use artificial circulatory systems to distribute nutrients and oxygen, with the idea of producing cultured meat on a larger scale, he added. The labs and petriplates may be involved in the initial stages but scaled production will happen in giant meat bioreactors or fermentors. It will be unjustified to call it as lab grown meat as well because there will be no labs involved during the commercial production, he pointed out.
Talking about the research- es being undertaken, Ranjan said presently, US-based New Harvest is the only research institute in the world dedicating funds and efforts for the advancement of cellular agriculture. “This donor funded organisation intends to solve major challenges coming on the road to commercialization that include finding a cost-effective medium for cell nutrition and developing an optimized bio-reactor design (the machines in which cultured meat will be grown in larger quantities once production moves from the R&D stage in labs).”