The National Growth Fund is investing sixty million euros in education and research into the technology for producing milk and meat directly from animal cells. The Groefonds believes that the climate and environmental benefits are extremely promising. Moreover, no animals need to be slaughtered for cultured meat.
“This is a milestone,” says Ira van Eelen on behalf of the Cellular Agriculture Netherlands Foundation. “Our country is the ideal place to further develop this technology. We are already a global frontrunner in biotechnology and alternative protein and food innovation. With cultured meat and dairy, the Netherlands can permanently put itself on the map as an agricultural nation.”
The application to the National Growth Fund was submitted by a consortium of Dutch universities, start-ups, food companies and sustainability organisations. Mosa Meat, which develops cultured meat in Maastricht, and Respect Farms, which has devised a concept for biorectors on the farm, are part of it.
Cultured meat is not yet on the market in Europe, but is already being sold on a modest scale in Singapore and Tel Aviv. However, the very first patents for cultured meat were issued in the Netherlands. Willem van Eelen, father of Ira van Eelen, took the first steps towards the concept twenty years ago.
“These first inventions were also possible thanks to public money from the Dutch government,” says Ira van Eelen. “In the meantime, an industry worth one billion euros worldwide has emerged from this. It is fantastic that the Netherlands is willing to invest money in this for the second time.”
Although part of the population in the rich West is now opting for a more plant-based diet, the worldwide demand for meat will continue to grow in the coming decades. Moreover, part of humanity continues to be a meat lover, for reasons of taste, culture and nutritional value. Cultured meat is an option because it is genetically identical to the animals that donate the culture cells.