Apparently, it’s possible to cultivate meat in space, too. Israeli food startup Aleph Farms announced on Monday that it has successfully grown bovine cells on the International Space Station, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth.
The company says its production method mimics the natural process of muscle-tissue regeneration occurring inside the cow’s body. In this case, the cells were harvested on Earth, grown in space and assembled into small-scale muscle tissue under micro-gravity conditions thanks to a 3D printer developed by Bioprinting Solutions, a Russian company.
The experiment (and successful PR stunt) was about devising the astronauts’ food of the future as much as producing meat regardless to availability of land and local water resources. “In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 Liter (3962.58 Gallon) of water available to produce one kilo of beef,” said Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO of Aleph Farms in a press release.
With global consumption of ruminant meat (beef, lamb and goat) projected to rise 88% between 2010 and 2050, it’s vital to find less resource-intensive ways of producing it.
Cultivated meat, slaughter-free meat produced by in vitro cultivation of animal cells, could represent the solution to this challenge.
Aleph Farms is one of several ambitious startups racing to be the first to bring it to the market. Many of these companies are based in Israel, which is sort of the Mecca of cultivated meat. “As a country, Israel has a noteworthy pedigree in science and technology studies, especially in stem cells research. And this way we can leverage the know-how of the many good universities that are based here,” Aleph Farms’CEO Didier Toubia, a biologist by education, told me in a previous interview.
But, viewed from the ISS, national borders start to fade away and the experiment conducted by Aleph Farms, if not “a giant leap,” is certainly a promising step in the right direction for all humankind.
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