Animals

SuperMeat: Real, non-GMO meat from animal cells

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Heart shape Raw meat Ribeye steak entrecote on wooden background

Image: Shutterstock/Lisovskaya Natalia

Can you imagine a world where cheap, healthful meat is widely accessible, while slaughterhouses and controlled feeding operations are no longer a thing? Sure, these two concepts completely contradict each other in the modern world. But there’s a company who wants to prove animal rights and access to inexpensive meat can coincide in real life.

Enter SuperMeat. The company who wants to grow 100% real, natural, and non-GMO meat from animal cells.

The concept of “growing” meat isn’t new—in fact, companies have been working on solving the cultured meat conundrum for years. With our world’s rapidly expanding population (and therefore, higher demand for cheap meat), there simply won’t be enough land to meet the need soon. And that doesn’t begin to explain the environmental impact of raising the 1 billion animals needed to meet the current demand for meat around the world.

That’s why SuperMeat has developed new technology to help remedy the situation from every possible angle. Animal rights activists will revel in the fact that SuperMeat will demolish the need for unethical feeding operations. Environmentalists will appreciate the decrease in deforestation, air pollution, water pollution, global warming, and energy waste that the modern meat industry contributes to. Meat consumers will value the lower price point, controlled quality, and end of meat-borne illnesses.

Sounds like a win for everyone, right? That’s what SuperMeat thinks, too.

So what exactly is SuperMeat? On their website, the company states, “The production of cultured meat begins by incubating stem cells in a media that is rich in nutrients. Those nutrients help the cells thrive and divide. With the addition of scaffolds and other technological aids, muscle and fat tissues are created and together they compose the meat with which we are all familiar.”

While this sounds quite technologically advanced, the process is no different than the way scientists currently study human stem cells and their ability to develop into various parts of the body. For example, current studies use stem cells from bone marrow to repair cartilage and bone material.

SuperMeat’s long term goal is to provide economically priced meat for everyday consumers to purchase from their local grocery stores. The reduced price point will come from the ease-of-access SuperMeat hopes to provide. Instead of the extremely unsustainable and expensive loop of meat production we have today (land use for livestock, land use to grow feed, transportation between feed and livestock, air pollution during transport and at feeding site, potential contamination during slaughter, processing, and finally transportation between processing plant and grocery stores), SuperMeat aims to create a one-stop experience, where the meat will be cultivated in a clean factory similar to a beer brewery. Reduced production costs = reduced prices at the grocery store.

While there is plenty of controversy over the concept of cultivated meat, once you wrap your mind around the idea, it’s hard to ignore. In a world where our population is expected to reach 11.2 billion by 2100, the facts are important to consider. It’s unrealistic to assume every meat eater will give up their daily indulgence, but the Earth can only hold so many acres of land for livestock and feed production.

SuperMeat believes the answer lies in creating real meat that not only satisfies environmentalists and animal rights activists, but tried-and-true meat consumers as well.

What do you think of SuperMeat? Would you consider eating real meat cultivated in a factory? Do you think SuperMeat’s ideology is flawed? Or the best compromise you’ve ever heard? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Mandy Burkholder is a travel, adventure, and outdoor writer who honed her craft in the foothills of the La Plata Mountains of Southwest Colorado. After a stint in the Swiss Alps, she now resides in Tennessee. Follow her on twitter — @mandyburkhold3r