The Union Department of Biotechnology has decided to fund the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and National Research Centre on Meat for research on cell-based meat.
Humane Society International/India (HSI/India) and Good Food Institute (GFI) India welcomed the decision, saying the investment would go a long way in putting India on the map of technologically advanced countries for cellular agriculture.
Cell-based meat, also called clean meat or cultured meat, is nutritionally equivalent to conventional animal meat, and tastes, smells, looks and feels exactly the same. Its only difference lies in the method of production. Rather than raising and slaughtering animals for meat, cell-based meat is produced through cellular agriculture, wherein cells are sourced from an animal and cultivated into meat. This new method of producing meat shows strong promise of revolutionising the food system in terms of tackling pressing global issues such as food security, environmental sustainability and animal welfare.
CCMB Director Dr Rakesh Mishra said; "This funding has been given to CCMB to develop technology to take laboratory cell culture process to cell-based meat production which can be scalable. This funding is one of the major initiatives by any government body across the world and much needed encouragement for other agencies and industry to participate."
Alokparna Sengupta, Deputy Director of HSI/India, said; "It is a matter of pride for us today that the Indian government is at the forefront of investing in the future of protein. CCMB comes with a plethora of cell biology experts and we are excited at the prospects of cell-based mutton being developed in the country. We believe this investment will go a long way in putting India on the map of technologically advanced countries for cellular agriculture."
Cell-based meat companies across the world are receiving significant government support, with the governments of Netherlands, Japan and Israel among others investing in clean meat companies. Additionally, the regulatory authorities of countries like the US are deliberating on the path to market these products. These efforts reflect the potential of the clean meat sector to provide future generations with sustainable nutrition.
Varun Deshpande, Managing Director for India at GFI, said, "Cell-based meat and other cellular agriculture products represent a new global food system that is better for people and the planet. Our aim is to feed 10 billion people globally by 2050, by creating a platform for tasty, affordable protein. This is a tremendous opportunity for investment by the Indian business community, including conventional meat producers. We are delighted to partner with CCMB and HSI/India in making India a lynchpin of this transformation."
In 2018, the Atal Incubation Centre at CCMB partnered with HSI/India, one of the largest animal protection organisations in the country, to promote and develop the clean meat sector, and has been working closely with GFI, a global expert organisation that advances research and commercialisation of the plant-based and clean meat sector, and provides input and support to entrepreneurs, regulators, scientists and others. In August 2018, the three institutions co-hosted the first event to discuss clean meat in India, the Future of Protein Summit.