Cellular ag technologies address two of the initiative’s four focal areas of innovation for 2022; they could be a key tool for reducing food’s environmental impact and enabling greater food security.
Aleph Farms, the Israeli cultivated meat startup on a mission to replace cows as an alternative to environmentally intensive cattle farming, today announced that it has joined the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) as an Innovation Sprint Partner. As part of this innovation sprint, $40 million is being invested in cellular agriculture R&D over the next five years through Aleph Farms with the support of growth investor L Catterton; Israeli food manufacturing giant Strauss Group; food-focused venture capital firms VisVires New Protein, CPT Capital and Synthesis Capital; nonprofit food think tank Food Tank; and advisory firm Christensen Global.
The United States and the United Arab Emirates, alongside 39 other countries and over 180 non-governmental partners, officially launched the AIM for Climate initiative at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021. The initiative galvanizes support and investments for innovation geared towards climate-smart agriculture and food systems, with a goal of fostering and scaling solutions where global hunger and the climate crisis intersect. AIM for Climate has four focal areas for innovation sprints in 2022:
Smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries
Of the four, cellular ag addresses the latter two: As a supplement to sustainable methods of animal agriculture and the emerging powerhouse of alternative proteins, cellular ag has the potential to rapidly reduce emissions of methane — a powerful (yet short-lived) greenhouse gas (GHG) of which livestock is a main source. Compared to conventional beef production, cultivated meat produced via cellular agriculture can reduce GHG emissions by 92 percent and water use by 78 percent, according to an independent life cycle analysis conducted by CE Delft. Cultivated meat is also far more efficient than cows at converting feed into meat. By requiring 95 percent less land, cultivated meat opens up new opportunities for land use, including producing more food and rewilding habitats for biodiversity — the latter of which further reduces emissions. In addition, because cultivated meat is produced in closed systems, its production is feasible in locations where extreme climate and resource scarcity prevent conventional beef production from taking place.
“Enhancing food security via cellular agriculture empowers communities and fosters regional cooperation, spurring economic growth in the process. This is why we are especially proud to be allocating these R&D funds as an AIM for Climate Innovation Sprint Partner,” said Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. “With cellular agriculture, humanity is better equipped to overcome significant food-related challenges and bring agricultural systems back into balance.”
Because meat represents only one-third of a cow slaughtered for conventional beef, Aleph Farms intends to continue expanding its product line to replace the whole cow. The company — which in 2021 became the first to have grown steaks directly from non-genetically engineered animal cells — has also developed slaughter-free collagen, which has numerous applications across an array of multibillion-dollar industries. Aleph Farms will introduce its products into global markets as soon as regulatory processes conclude and approvals are finalized.