Innovation That Matters

Spaghetti and meatballs | Photo source The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Beef meatballs grown in space


For the first time, beef has been grown in space, holding the promise of a way to create animal-free food.

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Spotted: Israeli food company Aleph Farms may have solved the question of what space explorers of the future will eat. The company recently announced that its experiment to ‘grow’ beef in the International Space Station, has proved successful. For its trial, the company used a 3D bioprinter developed by Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions.

On Earth, Aleph has developed a method for growing an entire piece of beef out of just a few cells. The cells are mixed with growth medium and ‘printed’ in layers, mimicking the natural process of muscle-tissue regeneration. However, in space, the lack of gravity means that the cells do not make layers. So, the tissue was printed from all sides simultaneously, to form a ball of meat. 

The experiment demonstrated that cultivated meat can be produced under almost any conditions and large amounts of additional water. In addition to potentially feeding astronauts, the experiment demonstrated a possible way for food to be produced when and where it is needed. 

A World Resources Report issued earlier this year found that by 2050 Americans will need to reduce their average consumption of beef by 40 per cent, and Europeans by 22 per cent, in order to feed the growing population. At the same time, livestock accounts for 14.5 per cent of total global greenhouse emissions. According to Didier Toubia, CEO of Aleph Farms, “This joint experiment marks a significant first step toward achieving our vision to ensure food security for generations to come, while preserving our natural resources.”

In the face of both looming environmental danger and rising food demand, a number of companies that are working to address this problem. At Springwise, we have recently covered potential solutions such as lab-grown kangaroo meat and synthetic meat grown from vegetable protein.



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