Cultivated meat is meat grown in cultivators out of animal cells. It is not plant-based meat but is grown in a lab, which removes the need for an animal to be reared and slaughtered.
As well as reducing animal suffering, cultivated meat can reduce air pollution by 94% compared with traditional animal agriculture, land use by 90%, and cut the overall climate impact by 92%.
The Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub (CARMA) will run for seven years and will aim to research ways in which to grow cultivated meat to scale. Researchers in CARMA will also investigate the producing of sustainable palm oil using precision fermentation.
Precision fermentation is a technique where microbes such as yeast are used to engineer proteins that can replicate the taste of staples like eggs and cheese without animals being involved in the process at all.
CARMA is primarily being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and led by the University of Bath. Experts from other universities, such as the University of Birmingham, the University of Aberystwyth, University College London, and the Royal Agricultural University, will also aid the research.
Professor Marianne Ellis from the University of Bath, who will lead the research, said “Our initial focus will be the tissue engineered cellular agriculture product, cultured meat, and the precision fermentation product, alternative palm oil, but as the Hub expands we expect many other cellular agriculture products to benefit from the research programme.”
“We will take a transdisciplinary approach by engaging with consumers and other stakeholders from the outset to ensure we compliment and boost our country’s food and farming industry for sustainability, social, and economic gains.”
The hub comes off the back the government’s pledge to support foods such as these as part of their £120m Food Strategy.
“With 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050 we need to double world food production on the same land area, using half as much energy and water. We cannot achieve that through traditional agriculture,” said George Freeman, Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation.
“The Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub will spearhead the development of new processes to produce key food groups like proteins sustainably and cost effectively to feed a growing global population.”
The plans were well received. Linus Pardoe, UK Policy Manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said “this landmark investment is a strong indication that the UK government recognises the importance of cellular agriculture and the need to invest in the R&D necessary to help British companies scale production, bringing down costs and making this food available to everyone.”