Cellular agriculture consists of an emerging set of technologies for producing local, reliable dairy and meat alternatives with low environmental footprints, and the potential to operate in a variety of industrial, urban and rural spaces, and communities. Led by the Food and Agriculture Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley, this project explores the potential cellular agriculture (CA) has for enhancing and contributing to local food security, economic development, and sustainability in Canadian Communities. Based in the Fraser Valley region, this project engages government, NGOs, industry, and community members to explore social, environmental, and economic opportunities and challenges around developing a local CA industry.
In some parts of the world you can already find, in stores, ice cream, milk, chocolate bars, cheese, and cream cheese made with animal-free dairy proteins. The dairy protein (e.g. whey) that is added into each recipe for something like this ice cream is molecularly identical to conventional sources of that protein, it just didn’t require an animal to produce it! It was produced using cellular agriculture techniques.
Cellular agriculture involves growing proteins or fats either through a cell culture (growing and propagating cells) or through fermentation (getting a microorganism to produce your compound of interest). In this diagram we focus on using fermentation processes to create dairy proteins of interest. While the idea of making dairy products without animals is exciting, it also raises lots of questions:
- How does this cellular dairy protein production process work?
- Where would this happen?
- What are the potential social, environmental, and economic costs associated with this industry?
The interactive diagram below shows at a very basic level how animal-free dairy proteins are made and provides some tentative answers to these questions. Click the boxes to learn more about the cellular dairy protein production process.
This project is being supported by funding from the Future Skills Centre's Shock-proofing the Future of Work program.