Monday, August 28, 2017

Bill Gates and Cargill invest in lab-grown meat

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is teaming up with agricultural giant Cargill Inc. and other businesses to invest in a company that produces meat from animal cells grown in a laboratory.

"Memphis Meats, which produces beef, chicken and duck directly from animal cells without raising and slaughtering livestock or poultry, raised $17 million from investors including Cargill, Gates and billionaire Richard Branson, according to a statement on the San Francisco-based startup’s website. The fundraising round was led by venture-capital firm DFJ, which has previously backed several social-minded retail startups," Shruti Singh reports for Bloomberg. Memphis Meats has raised $22 million so far.
A petri dish of lab-grown beef from Memphis Meats (Newsweek photo)
The rise of Memphis Meats corresponds with increasing consumer demand for meat alternatives, especially from millennials. Some are interested in animal welfare, some are worried about potential health problems associated with meat consumption, and some are concerned that animal husbandry hurts the environment. Meat and poultry producers are paying attention, as evidenced by Perdue's recent commitment to treat its chickens more humanely. And another poultry giant, Tyson, created a venture-capital fund dedicated to investing in companies that help sustainably feed the growing world population. Tyson, along with Gates, also bought a stake in popular meat-alternative company Beyond Meat.

Sonya Roberts, president of growth ventures at Cargill, told Singh in an email, "We believe that consumers will continue to crave meat, and we aim to bring it to the table, as sustainably and cost-effectively as we can. Cultured meats and conventionally produced meats will both play a role in meeting that demand." Branson was bolder in a statement, saying that he thinks the slaughter of animals for meat will be unnecessary in about 30 years.

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