While most countries across the world continue to eschew virtually all food creations originating from the lab rather than the farmstead (especially in Europe, where nearly 20 countries banned GMOs in 2015), the United States is charging full-steam ahead toward a completely new type of food system.
This emerging system places scientists at the forefront of food production, not farmers.
In many cases, lab-made food companies start with admirable goals of ending or minimizing animal suffering, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and other similar missions.
But critics wonder why these novel foods are being rushed to market without long term safety testing at a time when increasing amounts of synthetic foods are being allowed into the U.S. supply.
Recently, the company JUST made headlines by announcing its latest creation: lab-grown chicken nuggets made from feathers.
Along the same vein, lab-created “gene silenced” GMO foods like strawberries and wheat are also in the pipeline after a recent $125 million deal with Monsanto.
Now, a Berkeley, California company is taking things a step further, announcing plans to “disrupt” the dairy industry with a new product made from 3D printed milk proteins, as part of a process than prominently involves GMO yeast.
$40 Million Startup Developing Gene-Sequenced Milk Made from GMO Yeast
The brainchild of Ryan Pandya, formerly of the Bill Gates funded Biotech and vaccine company MassBiologics, and co-founder Perumal Gandhi, the company Perfect Day aims to produce cow-free milk with the goal of disrupting the dairy industry.
This new type of dairy will be made from food grade GMO yeast that has been altered through gene sequencing and 3D printing to produce proteins identical to those found in cow’s milk.
“We can’t help it. We love cheese,” the two co-founders and self-described vegans state on their website, adding that the yeast does not end up in the final food product.
“We thought: Why give up our favorite foods? There must be a better way. And so we brought together a diverse team of chefs, food developers, scientists, engineers, and marketers to achieve this goal.”
According to a 2015 study from Mark Steer of the University of West England, who reached out to Perfect Day to conduct a preliminary life cycle analysis and environment impact study on animal-free brewed milk compared to milk from cows, significant potential environmental benefits could result.
His research found that the Perfect Day lab created milk produced 84% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, had 98% less water use, 91% less land use, and a 65% reduction in energy use compared to traditional dairy.
With $40 million in backing from a host of investors, the company hopes to have its products on store shelves within two years.
“We’re developing a toolkit for the food industry,” says Pandya to Forbes. “Because we’re making those functional ingredients, we can work with every brand under the sun that’s currently buying dairy ingredients and help them to move their food products in a greener direction.”
Potential Health Effects of Lab Created, Cow-Free Milk
In the meantime, health conscious consumers have to wonder: will this new type of lab created food actually be tested long-term for safety?
Will it be adequately labeled and regulated, in contrast to the many concerns with GMOs that have gotten them banned across the world?
If history is any indication, the United States will once again lag behind, and consumers here will be the guinea pigs while residents of other countries stand firm behind their preference for natural foods.
Would you drink this new type of lab created milk, or would you prefer plant-based alternatives or regular grass fed dairy? Let us know in the comments section below.
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