For the first time ever, scientist have fabricated meat in space using a 3D bioprinter in order to create cruelty free ‘space beef.’
Despite the market growth of meat alternatives, many companies are looking to grow meat in their laboratories. This kill-free alternative allows consumers to eat meat without the ethical implications of eating farmed meat. An Israeli start up, Aleph Farms is one of the companies responsible for studying this innovative product.
Aleph Farms have partnered with the Russian laboratory 3D Bioprinting Solutions, as well as two other UK companies. The partnership conducted experiments on the International Space Station using a 3D printer to assemble cells harvested from live animals in order to create a piece of edible steak.
By gathering cells from live cows, Aleph Farms nourished and grew them in their laboratory for it to be assembled into forms that are recognisable as the meat humans eat. The animal cells were mixed with growth factors to create the ‘bio-ink’ for it to be 3D printed. The printer then lays down multiple layers of cells which grow into a piece of muscle tissue.
As we send astronauts deeper and deeper into space, there is increased pressure to develop a sustainable, nourishing and satisfying food source as long-term missions will prove difficult on freeze-dried foods.
“We are proving that cultivated meat can be produced anytime, anywhere, in any condition,” said Didier Toubia, co-founder and chief executive of Aleph Farms. “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.”
Toubia added: “In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 litres of water available to produce 1kg of beef.
“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.”