A giant meatball made from flesh cultivated using the DNA of an extinct woolly mammoth has been unveiled at Nemo, a science museum in the Netherlands.
The meatball was created by Australian cultured meat company Vow which said it wanted to get people talking about cultured meat, calling it a more sustainable alternative to real meat.
” We wanted something completely different than anything that you can find now,” Tim Noakesmith, co-founder of Vow told Reuters on Tuesday. He added that climate change is another reason why he chose mammoth.
” We face the same fate if things aren’t done differently,” Noakesmith said.
The meatball was made of sheep cells inserted with a singular mammoth gene called myoglobin.
“Myoglobin, a mammoth gene, is responsible for meat’s aroma, colour, and taste,” said James Ryall (Vow’s chief scientist officer).
As the DNA sequence of the mammoth obtained from Vow was incomplete, African elephant DNA had to be added in order to make it complete.
“Much like they do in the movie Jurassic Park”, Ryall said, stressing the biggest difference is that they were not creating actual animals.
Creating cultured meat typically involves using blood from a dead calves, but Vow chose an alternative. This means that no animals were hurt in making the mammoth-sized meatball. The meatball has the smell of crocodile flesh and is not allowed for human consumption.
“Its protein is literally 4,000 years old. It has not been seen in many years. Noakesmith stated that this means the product will need to be subject to rigorous testing, as we do for all products we sell.
Cultured meat as food is not yet regulated in the European Union.
Meat consumption is projected to increase more than 70 percent by 2050, and scientists have increasingly been turning to alternatives such as plant-based meats and lab-grown meat.
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