The very first lab-grown meat to be cultivated inside a space station has landed on earth. The company making it wants to ensure the entire production process is carbon neutral by 2025.
In September of 2019, food tech startup, Aleph Farms assembled a small-scale animal tissue 3D printer in the Russian section of the International Space Station (ISS). The production method used muscle tissue and natural regenerative properties inside a cow’s body to grow the meat. Instead of having to grow the whole cow, however, cells can be harvested and allowed to multiply in a controlled environment.
As well as being an ‘off-world’ first, the experiment to produce meat in space was set up to prove that it can be done even when resources are extremely limited. "In space, we don't have 10,000 or 15,000 Liter of water available to produce one Kg of beef," says Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO of Aleph Farms.
Statistics show that an incredible 70 per cent of the freshwater available for human use on the planet goes towards growing food and raising animals, says National Geographic. So, proving that the technology could 3D print meat in harsh conditions is a way of demonstrating how the concept could remove this drain on our natural resources.
Carbon Neutral by 2025
The latest UN special report on food production from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights a reduction in animal agriculture as one of the most important opportunities for mitigating climate change. Global food production could be responsible for up to a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to another study.
Aleph Farms states that its lab-grown meat already reduces the risk to eco-systems from agriculture but it wants to push that commitment further to meet the 1.5 degree Celsius target set by the Paris climate agreement. It is looking to make its whole production process carbon neutral by 2025.
“The way food systems across the world utilize the world’s finite resources wields a major influence on the direction in which climate change, food security, and socio-economic consequences will follow,” says Lee Recht, PhD, Head of Sustainability at Aleph Farms. “We see the situation and the challenges through an ‘innovation lens’ that helps us understand the responsibility we share and the impact we have on the state of our world and our people.”
By making efforts to reduce its carbon emissions, the company is looking to ensure that our food supply chains remain safe. “At a time when the occurrence of regional and global crisis is increasing - African Swine Fever, Australia fires, COVID-19 – food system resilience is at the core of Aleph Farms' vision and the key to building a better future for generations that follow,” explains Co-Founder and CEO, Didier Toubia.