Google co-founder Sergey Brin is in the headlines for his investment in the development of the world's first lab-grown burger, but he is not the only tech billionaire to fund genetically engineered food products.
PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates are also funding efforts to find alternatives to livestock-sourced meat. Gates invested in Hampton Creek Foods, a startup company working on plant protein based egg substitutes, and has praised Beyond Meat, a meat substitute company. Thiel gave a grant to Modern Meadow, a company using animal stem cells in what it calls "tissue engineering" to create meat and leather via 3D printing. Brin invested in Mark Post, a professor out of Maastricht University, who used stem cells and a fetal serum to grow meat in his lab.
These tech giants believe that meat alternative, lab-grown foods like these could be the future of food. Brin's reasoning for investing in the products was dual-pronged. One reason is animal welfare; he is "not comfortable" with the reality of the meat industry. The other is that he finds synthetic meat to be "transformative" technology on the "cusp of viability" despite the general public's perception that is sounds like something out of science fiction. Gate's reasoning for backing the product is different, but simple: "Put simply, there's no way to produce enough meat for 9 billion people. Yet we can't ask everyone to become vegetarians. We need more options for producing meat without depleting our resources." Worldwide demand for meat is not decreasing, only rising, and livestock is a substantial factor in the decline of the planet's health. Luckily, these tech giants see the meat problem as an opportunity and are well on their way to developing a solution.
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