People in lab coats may soon be replacing farm animals.
Upside Foods has developed a version of “slaughter-free,” lab-grown meat, which can be made without a single real animal. And now the FDA has approved this chickenless chicken for consumer consumption, meaning we may soon see it in restaurants and grocery stores.
Cultivating meat in a lab is a high-tech process, which involves taking cell samples from an animal and then nurturing them in a “cultivator,” where they grow and multiply into tissue.
The FDA approval is expected to open the door to an industry that has the backing of billions of dollars from investors. The FDA is already talking with dozens of other companies working on a variety of lab-grown meat and seafood products.
“For the very first time, this is the FDA giving the green light to a cultivated meat product,” Liz Specht, the vice president of science and technology at the Good Food Institute, told The New York Times.
The FDA’s decision is being welcomed by both environmentalists and animal rights activists. Researchers have found that a third of all planet-warming gases from human activity comes from food production. What’s more, nearly 60% of that comes from the production of meat.
Cell-cultivated meat not only offers a more sustainable alternative to the current system of raising livestock for human consumption, but it also provides a choice for consumers who are concerned about the treatment of animals being raised for food production.
Food experts, however, have been quick to point out there are still a few more hurdles to overcome before cultivated meat reaches local supermarkets. For one, the Department of Agriculture must also put its rubber stamp on Upside Foods’ production process. And from there, these “slaughter-free meats” will have to compete with traditional options.
But for now, Upside Foods and similar companies are looking toward the future with great enthusiasm. In a press release from Upside Foods, CEO and founder Dr. Uma Valeti shared his optimism.
“This milestone marks a major step towards a new era in meat production, and I’m thrilled that U.S. consumers will soon have the chance to eat delicious meat that’s grown directly from animal cells,” Valeti said.