By Danny Ayalon
I visited MeaTech last week and I met the future.
As an Israeli diplomat, former ambassador to US, and chairman of an investment banking firm,
I have witnessed many interesting technological and human advancements over the years. Few have the life-changing and planet-healing potential of what MeaTech is doing.
Skeptics will say, “They grew a steak from bovine cells,” and they would be correct. What’s important, however, is that creating a steak of 3.67 oz via animal-friendly cell biology and high-throughput tissue engineering is game-changing. It simply has not been done before. While other cultured meat companies have made huge strides as well, their cultured meats are shored-up with soy or pea protein whereas the MeaTech steak is comprised of real, living cultivated muscle and fat cells.
Full disclosure: I sit on the Board of Directors of MeaTech, so I know what was involved in reaching this milestone at the company’s Ness Ziona, Israel, labs. It was the perfect blend of science, math, electronics technology, and cell biology. No single step in the process – from cell harvesting, to cell growth and separation, to bio-printing and incubation – will work unless all the other steps in the process align. It’s precision technology, and it is impressive.
Beyond the technology aspects, creating real meat from animal cells without harming animals has wide-ranging implications for several of mankind’s greatest challenges: reducing world hunger, helping slow our planet’s warming, and reducing animal suffering at the hands of humans.
Many people remain unaware that livestock accounts for nearly 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, which contributes to climate change. Moreover, methane produced by cows is said to be 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) in warming the atmosphere. With the UN estimating the world population has grown from 2.6 billion in 1950 to 7.9 billion today and will possibly reach 11 billion by the end of this century, feeding people life-sustaining meat protein, requires innovative solutions beyond simply raising more cattle. Cultured meat may be that solution.
Now, MeaTech continues toward its goal of scaled production of cultivated bio-printed steak. The company will keep improving every step of its process to ensure its cultured meats better reflect the key characteristics of farm-raised premium steak anyone would be proud to serve to their guests.
Will we ever reach 100% of meat production through cultured meats? It may be unlikely. However, every pound of real meat created without harming animals, using far fewer of our planet’s limited resources, and without pesticides and antibiotics and growth hormones means a step forward for our planet and its population.
Bring on more of that steak, please!
Danny Ayalon is an Israeli diplomat, columnist and politician, who has served in senior advisor positions to several Israeli Prime Ministers. He also served as the Israeli Ambassador to the United States from 2002 through 2006. He is a member of the MeaTech Board of Directors.