Published: July 31, 2023

Category: GMO News

Very soon, cultured chicken meat will be served in big-city restaurants. CRISPR (gene-edited) pig meat developed at Washington State University (WSU) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for human consumption as sausages. Gene-edited products are allowed on the market in the U.S., unlabeled, and do not require FDA approval.

Lead WSU researcher Jon Oatley says gene editing allows for “better dissemination of desirable traits… [leading to] efficiency in food production.” His project used CRISPR to create sterile males, and then implanted sperm-producing stem cells from a different pig into these males. The previously infertile males then produced offspring carrying the genes of the sperm-cell donor pig—in effect, becoming “surrogate sires” for breeding more desirable characteristics. The donor pigs were slaughtered, with some of the meat made into sausages.

However, some studies have found that gene editing is not the precise technology that proponents have touted it to be. An article in Nature magazine in July 2020 described how the use of gene editing on human embryonic cells caused “chromosomal mayhem.”

Start-up companies Good Meat and Upside Foods have USDA approval to sell cell-cultured chicken. The lab-grown protein is created by putting stem cells from the muscle or fat of an animal into a culture medium to grow; a bioreactor then produces a meat “look-alike.” The meat will carry a “cell-cultivated chicken” label.

Investors are banking on cultured meat as the plant-based meat market is slowing down. Challenges to cultured meat include a) making large enough bioreactors; b) the high cost of the culture medium; and c) overcoming consumer wariness around lab-grown food.

Sources: Interesting Engineering; CNBC

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights August 2023