Opinion: The Future of Cell-Cultivated Meat Is Driven By Fear, Not Innovation
June 29, 2023
Last week was a watershed moment for cell-cultivated meat startups, as UPSIDE Foods and Eat Just received both label and Grant of Inspection approvals for their cell-based chicken products by the USDA. The two startups have raised a combined $1bn, with Eat Just incorporating 12 years ago as Hampton Creek, and UPSIDE eight years ago as Memphis Meats. The mission statements of these food tech unicorns are similar: “GOOD Meat is real meat made without tearing down a forest or taking a life,” writes parent company Eat Just. “We’re cultivating a more efficient, more humane, and more future-friendly way to grow delicious, high-quality meat for food lovers everywhere,” says UPSIDE. The process starts by extracting a cell sample from a fertilized chicken egg, where the best cells are then selected to be grown in bioreactors, and are then harvested after two to three weeks before the biomass is shaped into the final chicken breast. While the technological progress to create “meat without animals” is staggering, I believe that most cell-cultivated meat companies have unabashedly created a “solution in search of a problem” that fits squarely within the moonshot portfolios of misinformed venture capitalists. Furthermore, I also think that agricultural policy will be able to create better economic and environmental outcomes than any frankenscience ever could.