UC Davis establishes research, training in cultivated meat

Is cultivated meat — essentially, animal protein grown under lab conditions — a nourishing prospect to help feed the world, or is it more sizzle than steak? A consortium of researchers at the University of California, Davis, aims to explore the long-term sustainability of cultivated meat, supported by a new grant of up to $3.55 million from the National Science Foundation Growing Convergence program, in addition to previous support from the Good Food Institute and New Harvest.

“The societal need is to feed 9 billion people,” said principal investigator David Block, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology and professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. “What we want to know is, will cultivated meat be a viable supplement to traditional agriculture?”

Block does not see cultivated meat as replacing conventional agriculture, but rather as adding more production and flexibility. Potentially, if the conditions are right, farmers might find it advantageous to operate cultivated meat production alongside conventional agriculture, he said.

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