Since a team of scientists grew cells from cows in a lab and cultured those cells, turning them into the world’s most expensive burger, the debate for a future of food grown in labs has escalated. Experts estimate that by 2050 the world’s population will have reached 9 billion, which means food production will have to increase by 70% to meet the needs of the planet’s humans. With climate change predicted to restrict and decrease the production of many of the food crops we rely on and as the land available for pasture diminishes, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that humans may have to grow our own synthetic food in the future. So what would these ‘foods’ look like. Here are some that already exist.
Funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, the five-year project grows cells from organic cows. Organic proteins, vegetables and spices are added for taste. The verdict? Testers said the texture is close to meat, but not as juicy. The original burger cost $325,000 in 2013, today it costs just $11.
Scientists at an Irish university are developing an allergy-free peanut. The team is using DNA technology ‘CRISPR’ to modify peanuts in the lab. The project is controversial as some claim the peanuts can be classed as a GMO.
Cheese without cows
The crowd-funded Real Vegan Cheese Project aims to make cheese without cows. Cells of baking yeast are genetically modified to produce milk or egg proteins. Start-up Muufri brews its milk alternative using vegetables and microorganisms from yeast.
Johanna Schmeer designs products to provide water, vitamins, fibre, and other dietary necessities. Bioplastic enzyme-filled cells mimic natural cells to pump out protein paste, bright green nozzles drizzle syrup from a spongy white device, and living devices spray out clouds of airborne vitamins.
Software engineer Rob Rhinehart created the drink as a nutritional experiment. Rosa Labs say the low-cost drink contains all the elements of a healthy diet. The thick beige beverage is available in powdered form or ready to drink.