by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Cell-based

Jan 6 2023

Weekend reading: the politics of protein

The International Political Economy Society (IPES) food section has just issued this report.

Its major thesis: alternative plant- or cell-based alternative meats are not the solution to world food problems.

As the report’s author, Phil Howard, explains in his Civil Eats editorial:

The hype around alternative proteins also diverts our attention away from solutions that are already working on the ground: shifting to diversified agroecological production systems, strengthening territorial food chains and markets, and building “food environments” which increase access to healthy and sustainable diets. These pathways respond holistically to challenges whose breadth and depth have been well-evidenced. They entail transformative behavioral and structural shifts. They require sustainable food system transitions, not merely a protein transition. Yet without a consolidated set of claims and claim-makers behind them, these pathways are systematically sidelined.

Don’t feel like reading the report?  Watch the video.

Other resources:

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Nov 22 2022

Cell-based chicken substitute: The FDA says yes!

In big news for the cell-cultured meat industry, the FDA has done its version of approving production of cellular chicken.

Here, in inimitable FDA-speak, is the agency’s essentially tacit approval of UPSIDE Foods, Inc’s cultured chicken cell material:

Based on the data and information presented…we have no questions at this time about UPSIDE’s conclusion that foods comprised of or containing cultured chicken cell material resulting from the production process defined in CCC [Cell Culture Consultation] 000002 are as safe as comparable foods2 produced by other methods. Furthermore, at this time we have not identified any information indicating that the production process as described in CCC 000002 would be expected to result in food that bears or contains any substance or microorganism that would adulterate the food.

And here’s what The Guardian has to say about this breakthrough.

With Singapore currently the only country in which lab-grown meat products are legally sold to consumers, the US approval could open the floodgates to a new food market that backers say is more efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional livestock farming.

That’s the big news.

But there’s more:

Here are my questions:

  • How does this stuff taste?
  • Is it better than chicken?
  • Will anyone want to eat it?
  • If they do, can UPSIDE do this at scale?
  • What will this chicken substitute cost?
  • Is this really better for health and the environment?

I can’t wait to find out.

Tomorrow: What’s happening with plant-based meat alternatives.

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Nov 4 2022

Weekend reading: Nature Food on Cellular Agriculture

TODAY: Petaluma, 140 Kentucky, Copperfield’s Books, 7:00 p.m.  Information is here.

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Nature Food has an issue devoted largely to the topic of cell-based meat.

It is worth reading for getting an idea of where current thinking is on this issue, and also because of Phil Howard’s latest take on power on industry the cellular food category.

See his commentary article below.

Research Highlight: The price is right for artificial meat, Anne Mullen

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May 19 2022

Cell-based meat and milk: wonders of modern food technology?

None of this stuff is on the market yet, which is good or bad depending on how you look on it.  Maybe it’s just me, but these in-the-works products seem weird beyond belief.

Here’s what I’ve collected recently.

Even weirder, but perhaps more palatable, is making protein out of air.

And here is a report from Food and Water Watch

Sep 28 2021

Meat alternatives: cell-based

I’m seeing considerable confusion about the difference between cell-based and plant-based meat alternatives.

Cell-based products are not yet on the market, except in Singapore.  Plant-based products are everywhere, and I will deal with them separately tomorrow.

For an example of the confusion, Phil Howard’s op-ed in Civil Eats was first titled Giant Meat and Dairy Companies Are Dominating the Plant-Based Protein Market, but his informative diagram refers to cell-cultured meat and fish alternatives, those that start with cells of animal origin.  Civil Eats, ever careful, fixed the headline so it now reads, Op-Ed: Giant Meat and Dairy Companies Are Dominating the Plant-Based and Cellular Meat Market.  

Today, lets stick to cell-based, beginning with Joe Fassler‘s thoughtful analysis in The Counter: “Lab-grown meat is supposed to be inevitable. The science tells a different story.”

That science tells us:

  • Manufacturers consistently miss targets for product release.
  • Production costs are astronomical.
  • Even if costs can be reduced, production volume can never match real meat.
  • Producing cell-based meat to scale means keeping it free of contaminants (difficult, if not impossible)
  • Fetal blood serum, a necessary ingredient, requires animals to be slaughtered.
  • Cell culture facilities are resource-intensive.

In the meantime, here are some of the latest developments in regulation, image, and celebrity investment.

And here’s a summary of the latest research on concentration and power in cell-based agriculure.

  • Democratizing ownership and participation in the 4th Industrial Revolution: challenges and opportunities in cellular agriculture:  In this paper, we have sought to engage the nascent feld of cellular agriculture in conversation with the political economy of agriculture scholarship, namely, on the inescapable question of whether or not this emerging technology will further concentrate wealth and power in the global food system. Innovation without meaningful inclusion has led to inequality, distrust, environmental crises, and social disintegration, and the world’s biggest tech companies are well positioned to continue disrupting and absorbing traditional industries in the coming decades…Critically important and valuable innovation, including agroecological approaches to food production, also continues to come from non-industrial contexts.