Japan’s Prime Minister Embraces Cultivated Meat As Part of the Country’s Sustainable Future
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Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says the country will move forward with a plan to develop an industry of “cell agriculture” bringing a focus to cultivated meat and fish as a means to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.
Prime Minister Kishida is looking forward to creating a new agriculture sector that will increase the country’s sustainability he said in a statement.
‘A new market’
“We will develop the environment to create a new market, such as efforts to ensure safety and the establishment of labeling rules, and foster a food tech business originating in Japan,” Kishida said.
In his statement, Kishida emphasized the importance of supporting a sustainable food supply and contributing to solving the world’s food problems. He highlighted the potential of food tech, including cultivated meat, to create a new market and foster a food tech business sector in Japan.
Cellular agriculture is currently seeing a boom in investments and developments despite lagging regulations outside of Singapore — currently the only country that has approved cultivated meat for sale and consumption. The U.S. recently granted its first GRAS status to cultivated chicken developed by California-based Upside Foods. But it must still clear USDA regulations before it can be approved for sale.
The regulatory framework around cultivated meat is also still evolving globally and Japan specifically has not yet approved cultivated meat or safety standards for raw materials and manufacturing processes have not yet been established.
According to Japan’s Minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare Katsunobu Kato, “While paying close attention to the state of research and development, scientific findings on safety, and international trends, we will further consider what measures are necessary in terms of safety.”
Food labeling on cultivated meat is another issue that needs to be addressed. Consumer Minister Taro Kono expressed his support for cultivated meat, saying, “I think cultured meat has a lot of potential. When the safety is confirmed and it hits the market, I’d like to make an effort to properly label it.”
Cultivated meat’s global impact
The development of cultivated red meat has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental impact of animal agriculture.
According to a study by the University of Michigan, lab-grown meat could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 96 percent, land use by up to 99 percent, and water use by up to 96 percent, compared to traditional animal agriculture.
At a House of Representatives Budget Committee Prime Minister Kishida told Nobuhiro Nakayama of the Liberal Democratic Party that food tech, including cellular foods, “is an important technology from the perspective of realizing a sustainable food supply. We have to support efforts that contribute to solving the world’s food problems.”
Last year, Japanese cellular agriculture startup IntegriCuture closed a $ 7 million Series B funding round to develop affordable growth mediums and other tech solutions for the cultivated meat sector, with the aim of making its work open source so as to accelerate the sector’s commercialization. The company hosted a cultivated foie gras tasting last week, with founder Yuki Hanyu writing in a social media post that “although not widely reported, there was a tasting event of cell-cultured duck liver cells, made with basal medium only, without insulin, FGF2 or whatsoever expensive serum components”. He told reporters that the cost is currently about JPY 30,000 per 100 grams but he is looking to get that down to JPY 300 within three years.