Mammoth meat could be on the menu, if Australian company Vow is for real.
Vow, the startup of Tim Noakesmith, has made lab-grown cultured meat. And they didn’t use beef or pork as a basis, they used mammoth.
No actual mammoth cells were used, but the genetic information of the woolly mammoth is publicly available information. What was missing, Noakesmith filled in with genetic data from the African elephant, closest evolutionary relative of the extinct mammoth. The resulting DNA was inserted into a sheep cell, and forced to grow in a lab.
A few weeks later, and Vow was able to unveil a baked and seared meatball of mammoth meat in an Amsterdam science museum on Tuesday night.
“This is not an April Fools joke,” said Noakesmith, referring to the date, so close to April 1st. “This is a real innovation.”
Vow has no plans to begin selling extinct animal meatballs. They just wanted to add some wow factor to the discussion about lab-grown meat.
“We wanted to get people excited about the future of food being different to potentially what we had before. That there are things that are unique and better than the meats that we’re necessarily eating now, and we thought the mammoth would be a conversation starter and get people excited about this new future,” Noakesmith told The Associated Press.
“But also the woolly mammoth has been traditionally a symbol of loss. We know now that it died from climate change. And so what we wanted to do was see if we could create something that was a symbol of a more exciting future that’s not only better for us, but also better for the planet,” he added.
So far, only Singapore has approved cell-based cultured meat for consumption, and Vow hopes to begin selling its first real product – lab-grown quail meat – there next year.