A solution to the widespread environmental issues of factory farming may be available to consumers in at little as three years. Netherlands-based Mosa Meats announced this week that it has received the funding it needs to bring its lab-grown meat to the public by 2021.
The company secured funding from M Ventures and Bell Food Group. M Ventures is a branch of German pharmaceutical giant Merck, and Bell Food Group is a European meat processing company. Mosa has previously received funding from Google’s Sergey Brin and has also obtained funding from smaller sources.
Mosa Meats is not the only company pursuing lab-grown meat, nor is it the only company with funding from big corporations and mega-donors. Memphis Meats, a California-based lab-grown meat company, has received funding from Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Cargill, an international agriculture company.
On the other hand, major players in the meat industry are already lobbying for regulations regarding the emerging technology, which relies on cultured animal cells as opposed to slaughtering live animals. The National Pork Producer’s Council, for example, is working to ensure these cultured “meat” products cannot be labeled meat when they become available to consumers.
Despite opposition from traditional meat producers, the potential of lab-grown meat is huge. According to a report published this week, meat and dairy producers are on track to surpass the oil industry as the world’s top polluters. The contribution of factory farming to the degradation of the environment has been increasingly documented in recent years. From the creation of “dead zones” to the depletion of soil caused by harvesting crops for animal consumption, activists continue to warn of the threats of factory farming.
"Replacing traditional meat production with cultured meat would have a huge impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, it would free up a large amount of resources that are now used for meat production worldwide and will completely disrupt an old-established and currently unsustainable industry," said Alexander Hoffmann, a principal at M Ventures, in a press release.
Further, meat and dairy produced within this system are often pumped full of antibiotics, a practice that has led to the evolution of “super bugs” resistant to treatment as human develop resistance to antibiotics through their consumption of meat.
Though many consumers are still skeptical of lab-grown meat, it appears to be an inevitable development. Richard Branson has said he believes all meat will be “clean or plant-based” in 30 years.
Mosa Meats plans to bring its first burgers to market in 2021 and achieve full-scale industrial production a few years after that.