WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Have you ever wondered what Woolly mammoths tasted like? Now you can find out with sci-fi foodtech!
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Today scientists are thinking about de-extincting the Woolly Mammoth – for real, and Japanese researchers even bought 28,000 year old Woolly Mammoth cells back to life. We can also take the cells from animals and turn them into meat like bacon, chicken nuggets, steak, or tuna fillets, without the animal. So it now seems only fitting that after one company said they were going to use the latter technology, known as Cellular Agriculture, to create Tiger and T-Rex burgers, and another used the tech to create human burgers – yes you heard that right – that a company has use this off the wall tech to create a giant meatball made from flesh cultivated using the DNA of an extinct woolly mammoth. It was unveiled on Tuesday at Nemo, a science museum in the Netherlands.
The meatball was created by Australian cultured meat company Vow which – promising this was not an April Fools’ joke – said it wanted to get people talking about cultured meat, calling it a more sustainable alternative for real meat.
The Future of Food, by keynote Matthew Griffin
“We wanted to create something that was totally different from anything you can get now,” Vow founder Tim Noakesmith told Reuters, adding that an additional reason for choosing mammoth is that scientists believe that the animal’s extinction was caused by climate change.
The meatball was made of sheep cells inserted with a singular mammoth gene called myoglobin.
“When it comes to meat, myoglobin is responsible for the aroma, the colour and the taste”, James Ryall, Vow’s Chief Scientific Officer explained.
Since the mammoth’s DNA sequence obtained by Vow had a few gaps, African elephant DNA was inserted to complete it.
“Much like they do in the movie Jurassic Park”, Ryall said, stressing the biggest difference is that they were not creating actual animals.
That’s one giant meatball!
While creating cultured meat usually means using blood of a dead calf, Vow used an alternative, meaning no animals were killed in the making of the mammoth meatball.
The meatball, which has the aroma of crocodile meat, is currently not for consumption.
“Its protein is literally 4,000 years old. We haven’t seen it in a very long time. That means we want to put it through rigorous tests, something that we would do with any product we bring to the market,” Noakesmith said.
Vow hopes to put cultured meat on the map in the European Union, a market where such meat as food is not regulated yet.