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In Vitro Leather May Be Ready in Five Years

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Despite a $1M reward offered by PETA, meat grown in vitro (aka, in a lab) has yet to make it beyond the hands of those in white lab coats. By next month, one company in the Netherlands hopes to deliver the first lab-grown patty – but with a cost of $345,000 attached to it – this isn’t something you’re likely to see anytime soon.

There’s also the marketing problem of in vitro meat – since it conjures visions of a dystopian future more readily than a home-cooked meal (though honestly, if more people watched “If Slaughterhouses had glass walls…” they might be compelled to embrace alternatives.)

One company, however, is side-stepping the whole consumption conundrum and instead hoping that people might be more open to wearing lab-grown leather.

Modern Meadow, backed by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, expects to commercially produce in vitro leather within the next five years.

“The main reason is that, technically, skin is a simpler structure than meat, making it easier to produce,” company cofounder and CEO Andras Forgacs told Txchnologist.

Citing earlier fears about marketing, Forgacs says they’ve found only about 40% of people are interested in consuming cultured meat. “There’s much less controversy around using leather that doesn’t involve killing animals,” he adds.

Txchnologist has an excellent rundown of how Modern Meadow will bio-engineer the leather, so I’ll let those interested jump now – but Forgacs is insistent that they could make a serious dent in the $2.5B meat and leather industry.

“If we can come up with a very good product that can be technically superior in some ways and at the same time environmentally more conscious and animal friendly, then that could mean a significant portion of the global market,” he says.

In a submission to the United States Department of Agriculture, the company notes that its vegetarians that may be the first to embrace its product.

“We expect it will first appeal to culinary early-adopter consumers and the segment of the vegetarian community that rejects meat for ethical reasons.

“With reduction in price, it can reach the masses with religious restrictions on meat consumption (people restricted to Hindu, Kosher, Halal diets) and finally populations with limited access to safe meat production.”

If you agree with the statement that meat is meat – and you’re a vegan or vegetarian – I’m not sure wearing or consuming an exact replica grown in a lab will make you feel any better. Something tells me that vegetable leather would be more appealing to those looking to match fashion with their values.

What do you think? Would you wear “cultured leather” – or does the whole thing turn you off?

via Daily Mail

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