“Institute for Cellular Agriculture” is thinking big by thinking small


Is lab-grown meat or similar foodstuff ever going to be a significant part of humanity’s diet? Maybe.

Down the road near Boston, Tufts University is thinking about it. Tufts has been awarded $10 million over five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems program to establish the National Institute for Cellular Agriculture, “a flagship American cultivated protein research center of excellence.” (Love that phrase, “cellular agriculture”)

From the press release:

Tufts University Professor David Kaplan, a renowned cultivated meat expert, will lead the initiative and will be joined by investigators  from Virginia Tech, Virginia State, University of California-Davis, MIT, and University of Massachusetts-Boston. The new institute will “develop outreach, extension, and education for the next generation of professionals” in cellular agriculture and lead research that will help to expand the menu of climate-friendly protein options and improve food system resilience.

There are good reasons to be dubious that lab-grown food can scale to any significant size. A guy named Joe Fasler at TheCounter.org had a good, detailed write-up of why he’s doubtful, noting that the process is similar to well-established processes used to manufacture vaccines. Read the whole thing here.

But we can’t know for sure unless we try – hence the Tufts institute.

By the way, this is distinct from meat-like foods made from plants such as Impossible Burgers. Those have different constraints.



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