Aston University is one of 17 higher education institutions that are expected to play a major role in the development of cultivated meat
Aston University has been identified as a potential future leader when it comes to lab-made meat.
The university is among 17 higher education institutions which have been predicted to play a significant role in the future of food in the UK.
And cultivated (or lab-made) meat is set to be a key part of that future, according to non-profit organisation Cellular Agriculture UK, which promotes the nation’s cellular agriculture industry.
According to the organisation, cultured meat could offer myriad benefits over its traditional counterpart.
It is not a vegan option, as it is made from cells taken from animals via biopsy. However, advocates say it doesn’t require the slaughter of animals. Its production also requires less land than traditional livestock farming.
Furthermore, Cellular Agriculture UK says that the process of cultivating lab-meat promises fewer greenhouse gases.
Aston University makes the list
Cellular Agriculture UK produced a report, titled Mapping the potential for UK universities to become research and teaching hubs for cellular agriculture, in which it listed potential key centres.
As well as Aston University, it listed Cambridge, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Imperial College, London as being high potential when it comes to becoming anchor institutions for cellular agriculture.
Speaking about the list, Aston’s Dr Eirini Theodosiou, senior lecturer in the School of Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering, said: “This is still a relatively new food technology.
“Unlike many others, we work on biomaterials for microcarriers/scaffolds for cultivated meat, which puts us in a very strong position, in the UK at least.”
While cellular agriculture is not animal free, it does not require slaughter and uses less land than traditional agriculture. Image © michal-rojek via Getty Images
The psychology of cultured meat
Another part of the university’s work into cultured meat looks at attitudes, something the School of Psychology’s Dr Jason Thomas is exploring, particularly when it comes to how to support people to integrate the product into their diet.
According to a recent study of UK and US consumers, some 35 per cent of meat eaters and 55 per cent of vegetarians say they are ‘too disgusted by the idea of cultured meat to even try’ cultured meat.
He said: “We are interested in finding out what factors can influence consumer purchase of and consumption of lab-made meat.”
“The engineering/psychology link is one of our USPs and is something Aston University can capitalise on; learning what the consumer wants from cultivated meat, and what would encourage them to consume it, using psychological science, and then incorporating this directly into the production process via engineering. ”
He added that it is still ‘a relatively new food technology’, and ‘much work still needs to be done to make it affordable, acceptable and on a massive scale’.
However, he notes: “It could easily end up being one of the most transformative new foods of the 21st century.”
What do you think about cultured meat? Is lab grown meat the answer to ending factory farming?
Featured image © Firn via Adobe Stock