Israeli Foundation Researching Cultured Chicken, Without Slaughter
The Modern Agriculture Foundation (MAF) in Ramat Gan, Israel has stated it will research creating mass-produced cultured chicken, free of any slaughter.
While Mark Post, Dutch tissue engineer, was in the news in 2014 for creating a beef burger created from lab-cultured cow tissue muscle, the Israeli foundation will be the first to explore the same methods for the second most popular meat worldwide, chicken. This type of cultured meat, Post hoped, would be accessible in terms of price in a few decades, and would also simultaneously lessen and eventually eliminate both the moral objections with eating meat and the environmental issues when raising animals for food.
The MAF, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, was founded just last March and would be researching the mass production of cultured chicken breast, all from the single cell of one real bird. The research includes the cost, timetable and resources needed in order go create the first cultured chicken breast.
Shir Friedman, MAF co-founder, stated:
“We are a group of caring individuals who came to the conclusion that what the world needs urgently, in terms of helping both the environment and animals, is for everybody to go vegan. But that’s not realistic. So when we heard about the idea of cultured meat, we realized this is a way to reduce harm to animals and the environment while giving people the meat they want to eat.”
The study is privately funded, and is headed by Professor Amit Gefen at Tel Aviv University. It is set to be completed in 2016, and according to Friedman, the hopes are high for its impact:
“Researchers and entrepreneurs who will take part in our project will help redesign the food industry and move it forward into a cleaner, healthier and environmentally friendly world. Our main goal is to hasten the day when cultured meat is sold in stores. The sooner this day comes, the less damage our planet will suffer.”
A challenge met by the foundation, however, is making it clear that their cultured chicken breast would not be some kind of genetically engineered substitute. It will be meat and just as all things produced on a mass scale, eventually it would just be made in a factory rather than a laboratory. The way it would work is that after stem cells are incubated in a nutrient-rich medium that promotes cell growth and division, technological aids would then help the cells form a thin layer of muscle tissue, which is the meat. Friedman states:
“We are simply letting biology do its thing, letting cells create the muscle tissue they know how to create. The meat will be identical in taste and flavor and ingredients to meat from an animal — if anything, healthier because we can control the amount of cholesterol and fat. It will be a very sustainable way to feed the planet.”
The completion date of January 2016 is right around the corner, so hopefully the results and findings will be good news for the new year for humans, animals, and the environment!
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