Scientists say that they have successfully found a way to produce “slaughter-free” meat aboard the International Space Station that is touted to be an upcoming frontrunner in the move towards sustainability.
Food aboard the ISS is often mush and meant to be lightweight for transfer from Earth. This sustenance can last for a particular amount of time for astronauts to heat up when it’s time for a meal.
Producing food in-space is now a “not so” far-fetched idea, as technology advances towards making the big black emptiness more habitable.
Aleph Farms is one of the few companies that are breaking through the possibility of space-grown food, and they’re thinking big with their latest attempt at making meat.
The Israeli food technology startup hitched a ride to the ISS and conducted its experiment on September 26 through the aid of Russian astronaut, Oleg Kononenko.
The company successfully produced meat from harvested beef cells from Earth and was grown into small-scale muscle tissue using a 3D bioprinter developed by a Russian company, Bioprinting Solutions. The method relies on mimicking a natural process of muscle-tissue regeneration occurring inside a cow’s body.
Aleph Farms claims that their so-called Frankenstein meat looks and tastes the same as it does in conventional practices even though cultivated 248 miles (339 km) away from any natural resources.
However, the in-space experiment proves to be more as a publicity stunt rather than a solution to how they can expand the menu aboard the ISS, at least it is so for the meantime.
Growing Earth-like meat still requires a lot of natural resources that are currently not present or are hard to find on Earth’s orbit.
“In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 liters of water available to produce 1kg of beef,” said Didier Toubia, co-founder and chief executive of Aleph Farms.
On the brighter side, it does prove the point that it is a possibility, especially now that researchers are developing the technology and are looking into harvesting water from other nearby sources such as asteroids.
What Aleph Farms is trying to prove today, on a more important note, is that they’re innovation marks a further step towards efforts to curb the increasing environmental impact and welfare problems of intensive livestock production.
Due to the high demand for meat, as much as 96 percent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by switching to fake meat, it is a step towards tackling global warming.
In the future, we could have fake meat developed from the cells of a few cows instead of farming thousands.
“We are proving that cultivated meat can be produced anytime, anywhere, in any condition,” said Toubia. “We can potentially provide a powerful solution to produce the food closer to the population needing it, at the exact and right time it is needed.”
“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 December, Aleph Farms announced it had produced a prototype “strip” of steak grown from cells in the lab in two weeks, although it admitted the taste needed to be improved.
Meat takes at least three years before consumers can purchase its steaks or burgers, according to company estimates.