Universities back £12m alternative proteins project

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Researchers at the University of Aberystwyth are contributing to a £12m project to produce sustainable alternative proteins
Researchers at the University of Aberystwyth are contributing to a £12m project to produce sustainable alternative proteins

Related tags alternative protein cell-based meat

Researchers at the University of Aberystwyth are contributing to a £12m project to produce sustainable alternative proteins.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and led by the University of the Bath, the project is looking at the most effective methods of using livestock cells to grow cultured meat sustainably, effectively and ethically.

Project lead Dr Ruth Wonfor from Aberystwyth University’s Department of Life Sciences’ focus will be on finding the best cells to use and the nutrient formulations in which they are grown under laboratory conditions.

Commenting on the project, Wonfor said: “Our work at Aberystwyth is focused on identifying the best source of muscle cells and nutrients for bioreactors that produce cultured meat sustainably, efficiently and ethically so that we have the means of producing additional sources of protein alongside traditional farming methods, without having to greatly increase animal numbers.

Feeding a growing global population

“I look forward to working with colleagues at Bath and other institutions as we tackle the pressing problem of sustainably feeding a growing global population.”

This seven-year, multidisciplinary project also includes scientists from the University of Birmingham, University College London and the Royal Agricultural University committing their expertise, offering an array of expertise spanning the underpinning sciences, engineering, and social sciences.

The project has also been supported by a range of industrial partners who remain unnamed at the time of reporting.

Professor Marianne Ellis from the Department of Chemical Engineering at University of Bath added: “I am incredibly excited and thankful that the EPSRC have recognised the opportunities the emerging field of cellular agriculture brings to achieving net zero and addressing food security.

We compliment and boost the industry

“We will take a transdisciplinary approach by engaging with consumers and other stakeholders from the outset to ensure we compliment and boost our country’s food and farming industry for sustainability, social, and economic gains.”

While the world of traditional meat and animal agriculture looks set to continue on a path of cost saving and meeting sustainability goals, the world of alternative proteins is geared to pick up the baton and race ahead in its plans to offer consumers what they want most from plant-based meats – all the taste but none of the guilt.

In our meat trends feature,​ Hoxton Farms co-founders Max Jamilly and Ed Steele explained how they have been experimenting with the use of cultivated fats to make products that look, cook and taste just as good as the real thing.

UK Minister of State for Science, Research & Innovation George Freeman concluded: “With 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050 we need to double world food production on the same land area, using half as much energy and water. We cannot achieve that through traditional agriculture.

“The Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub will spearhead the development of new processes to produce key food groups like proteins sustainably and cost effectively to feed a growing global population.”

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