Editorial
5 min read

What is Cellular Agriculture & Why it Matters

What is Cellular Agriculture & Why it Matters

Cellular agriculture offers great potential for solving some of the most pressing environmental problems of our time. With the global population estimated to hit 10 billion people by 2050 and the planet in crisis, innovation that addresses these challenges is needed urgently.

What is Cellular Agriculture?

Cellular agriculture is a broad term that describes the production of food directly from cells, rather than animals. Cell-based products such as meat, fish, coffee, and chocolate can all be grown through cellular agriculture, without the use of antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, or extensive natural resources like land and water.

Cells are grown in a safe, sterile, and controlled environment called a bioreactor. Over a period of 5 to 7 weeks, the cells mature into the muscle, fat, and connective tissue that make up meat, and are then harvested and packaged into final products. 

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Why Does It Matter?

Conventional food production is responsible for approximately one-third of the current climate crisis, actively contributing to climate change, methane emissions, rainforest destruction and deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and soil pollution. 

At scale, cellular agriculture technologies could feed the growing global population with just a fraction of the land and resources used in conventional agriculture. 

When compared to conventional agriculture, cellular agriculture production may:

  • Require 80% less land
  • Require 94% less water
  • Produce 76% less Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Use 45% less energy

Further, cell-based foods provide a pathway to maintain food production when normal methods may be difficult or impossible. Cellular agriculture provides control of how, when, and where we need to produce food, helping to alleviate food security. Populations with limited access to animal products will have increased independence to grow products through cellular agriculture in as little as 5 to 7 weeks, compared to conventional agriculture which can take more than 2 years until the animal is ready for slaughter.

Where can I find cell-based products?

The first ever cultivated meat product was approved by the US FDA in November, opening the pathway for companies around the world to put products grown through cellular agriculture onto our dinner plates. We expect this important milestone will accelerate the availability of cell-based products in grocery stores and restaurants over the next few years, including Canada, as companies continue to innovate in cellular agriculture.

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