UK Government pledges £2bn for engineering biology in boost for alternative proteins development

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Cultivated meat is not currently authorised for sale in the UK. Credit: GOURMEY
Cultivated meat is not currently authorised for sale in the UK. Credit: GOURMEY

Related tags Sustainability

The UK Government has pledged £2bn to fund research, development and infrastructure in engineering biology.

The National Vision for Engineering Biology will invest the money over the next 10 years, with the alternative proteins sector set to benefit.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) highlighted earlier this month (December 2023) the potential role that alternative proteins such as cultivated meat and plant-based options could play in meeting national objectives for economic growth and food production.

The strategy states that the development of a range of alternative proteins can support sustainability and food security targets by “reducing pressure on land use for pasture​”. However, it also argued that the existing infrastructure was not sufficient to support alternative protein product manufacturers in scaling up their processes.

The strategy also identified potential regulatory change as a major opportunity for the UK alternative protein sector, including the potential legalisation of cultivated meat products. Cultivated meat is currently legal in just Singapore and the US, while it was recently banned in Italy.

As part of the funding, three to five “regulatory sandboxes​” will be created to support robust safety assessments, with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) confirming that it would bid for a new cultivated meat regulatory sandbox to support innovation. The FSA is responsible for steering reforms to the novel foods regulatory framework in the UK.

In response to the announcement, Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “We warmly welcome the government’s National Vision for Engineering Biology and its clear support for alternative proteins like cultivated meat.

Through smart regulatory reforms and ambitious public investments in research, development and infrastructure, the UK has a golden opportunity to cement its position among the world’s most forward-thinking countries in this sector.

“Action must now follow this vision: establishing new food-grade pilot facilities, forging a new cultivated meat regulatory sandbox and investing in the alternative protein workforce should all be top priorities for UK science and innovation over the rest of the decade.”

In other news, almost 190 jobs have been saved after it was confirmed that JF Renshaw has been rescued from administration.

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