The Israeli company Aleph Farms has just unveiled its lab-grown bio-printed slaughter-free fat-marbled ribeye steak. The steak is grown from living cow cells and then incubated to grow, differentiate, and interact in order to acquire the texture and qualities of a real steak. The company claims that it has "the ability to produce any type of steak and plans to expand its portfolio of quality meat products." In The Washington Post, Aleph's chief executive Didier Toubia said that the company plans to begin selling its meats in the second half of 2022. He said that the lab-grown meats would initially be sold as a premium product, but predicted that in five years cultured meats would cost the same as conventional meats.
Aleph's news follows upon San Francisco-based Just Eat, Inc.'s announcement in December that its cultured chicken nuggets have been approved by Singapore's food safety agency and are already being sold in restaurants. Numerous other startups are pursuing the production of cultured meats including Israel-based Future Meat Technologies and Dutch companies Meatable and Mosa Meat, and U.S.-based Memphis Meats.
While Singapore's regulators have been quick to approve a cultured meat product, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture are still in the process of figuring out how they want to regulate lab-grown meats. Let's hope that the FDA will move more swiftly toward approving safe cultured meats than the 24 years it took to approve the sale of salmon genetically enhanced to grow faster.
A switch to cultured meats and milk could have big benefits for the natural world. Currently, about half of the world's habitable land is devoted to agriculture and 77 percent of that is used to raise livestock and produce milk. Although controversial, one preliminary estimate suggests that producing cultured meats cuts energy use by 7–45 percent, greenhouse gas emissions by 78–96 percent, land use by 99 percent, and water use by 82–96 percent. The end of farming could be in sight as real factories replace factory farming.