New Project Explores Decentralizing Cultivated Meat By Supporting Farmers
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A new research project from Respect Farms aims to bring cultivated meat production to conventional agricultural operations.
The 18-month feasibility research project is underway with €900,000 in support funding from European governments, NGOs, and industry partners, including Rügenwalder Mühle, the Swiss farmers’ union, fenaco Genossenschaft, the cooperative bank Rabobank, and the Belgium animal rights organization GAIA (Global Action in the Interest of Animals).
The group’s goal is to develop the world’s first cultivated meat farm where meat is grown directly from animal cells. Respect Farms, founded by Ira van Eelen, Ralf Becks, Florentine Zieglowski and Ruud Zanders, is active in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland, working to develop new business models for conventional agriculture, and leveraging cellular agriculture as a key factor.
A mass shift to cultivated animal protein could help to decentralize cultivated meat production, allowing any farmer or rancher to produce it similar to other crops and animal products.
Respect Farms will look at three key areas: animal-friendly cell selection, circular cell feeding, and bioreactors suited for farm environments.
“We are excited to help develop a vision on how farmers will be included in the future cellular agriculture ecosystem. It is important for our nascent field to explore business models and value chains that maximize the benefits for everyone. We are quite proud to be a scientific and technical partner for this project,” Maarten Bosch, CEO of Mosa Meat, said in a statement.
“Cultivated meat offers a solution to the significant issues we are facing as a global community: feeding the fast-growing population in a safe and sustainable way while reducing environmental damage and conserving our planet”, said Jan Westra, Strategic Business Developer at consortium partner Priva.
The group calls the research essential, saying it plays a vital role in evaluating the potential future role conventional agriculture will play for cellular agriculture.
New business models for Swiss farmers
“Once the project is completed, we will be able to assess the extent to which cellular agriculture and the production of cultivated meat on farms represent a new business field for Swiss farmers. Our involvement is thus oriented towards the purpose of the fenaco cooperative: to support farmers in the economic development of their businesses” says Christian Consoni, Head of the Food Industry Division at the fenaco Cooperative.
“We believe that this proposition responds well to the demand for necessary new sustainable earning models for the existing agricultural sector,” says Aernout van der Does, Directeur Banking for Food, Kringdirectie Oost-Brabant, Rabobank.
GAIA’s president Michel Vandenbosch praised the project as a win for animal rights advocates.
“For animal welfare, we want the food transition towards cultured meat production to happen as soon as possible, without doubt,” Vandenbosch said.
“For a 100 percent animal-friendly and slaughter-free transition, we aim [sic] a beneficial transition also for farmers,” he said. “With the upcoming feasibility studies, we will assess opportunities for farmers, how they can best use these opportunities and what role they can play. In this way, the transition to cultured meat fits into the broader picture of making the economy ethically sustainable.”