Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS CELLULAR AGRICULTURE (CELL AG)?
Cellular agriculture is the process of producing animal products from cells or microbes instead of farming entire animals. Cells are harvested from an animal and proliferated in a cultured medium with all of the necessary nutrients. These cells multiply in vitro and are then harvested, structured, and seasoned to be consumed as meat products.
HOW CAN I JOIN CELL AG @ MIT?
WHAT CELLULAR AGRICULTURE OPPORTUNITIES ARE THERE AT MIT?
We are currently focused on getting grants for creating UROP opportunities in the cell-ag space. If you are interested in taking part in a UROP or supporting research at MIT, please email us! We encourage you to also talk to MIT professors whose work you think could be relevant to cell ag, and approach them with your interest. If you are interested in hearing updates about what we are doing, subscribe to our mailing list.
WHY IS CELLULAR AGRICULTURE IMPORTANT?
Firstly, it is a potential solution to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted through the process of regular farming. It also makes better use of our planet’s limited resources such as water, land, and crops. The demand for meat products is increasing and will continue to do so, as the population increases by a projected 2 billion by 2050.
Moreover, CellAg is a more humane way of creating animal products that does not compromise animal welfare. It also allows for control over the contamination and food safety issues that are often associated with the meat and fish industry.
ARE CELL AG PRODUCTS HEALTHY?
As research and technology improves, cell ag could prevent many food-borne diseases that accompany raw meat, seafood, and dairy products. Moreover the products can be designed to very specific nutritional profiles and can measure the exact amounts of fat content, protein content, and other nutrients.
ARE CELL AG PRODUCTS GENETICALLY MODIFIED?
Unless otherwise specified, cultured meat products involving the growth of stem cells outside of the animal does not require genetic modification--the process mimics how cells naturally grow within conventional livestock in a sterile lab, without the need for slaughtering! To enhance the nutritional profiles of cultured meats in a safe way, early studies are ongoing to see if we can use gene editing to introduce things like vitamins or substitute cholesterols with healthier fats into these products, which could tailor the future of food to specific needs.
Precision fermentation, another niche within cellular agriculture, often utilizes well-studied ways of editing genes in microbes to produce products that are identical to what we can get from conventional agriculture. For example, Perfect Day is a company that uses this technique to make microorganisms produce the same milk proteins found in regular dairy.