To end 2021 on a positive note, the Elites’ plan to replace animal meat with vat-grown sludge has failed. Read the story of how !science! discovered that it takes a cow to make a steak!
I left a lot of the story out. It accidentally gives a lot of backstory into the players behind the scenes of alternative meat but I had to stay on topic.
Lab-Grown Meat Is Supposed To Be Inevitable. The Science Tells A Different Story.
By Joe Fassler, 22 September 2021
Paul Wood didn’t buy it.
For years, the former pharmaceutical industry executive watched from the sidelines as biotech startups raked in venture capital, making bold pronouncements about the future of meat. He was fascinated by their central contention: the idea that one day, soon, humans will no longer need to raise livestock to enjoy animal protein. We’ll be able to grow meat in giant, stainless-steel bioreactors—and enough of it to feed the world. These advancements in technology, the pitch went, would fundamentally change the way human societies interact with the planet, making the care, slaughter, and processing of billions of farm animals the relic of a barbaric past.
Oregon isn’t even waiting. Segue:
An Oregon ballot [Initiative Petition 13] proposed for 2022 would effectively criminalize the farming of food animals in the state by classifying their slaughter as aggravated abuse and redefining artificial insemination and castration as sexual assault.
I hope that none of my Oregon readers have donated to a sperm bank recently. All she needs to do is identify as a cow…
Petition 13 will be ‘voted’ on in November 2022.
It’s a digital-era narrative we’ve come to accept, even expect: Powerful new tools will allow companies to rethink everything, untethering us from systems we’d previously taken for granted. Countless news articles have suggested that a paradigm shift driven by cultured meat is inevitable, even imminent.
It’s remarkable, looking at the news stories over the years, how long the Great Reset has been coming. Far longer than any one human’s life span.
For four years, Wood, who has a PhD in immunology, served as the executive director of global discovery for Pfizer Animal Health. (His division was later spun off into Zoetis, today the largest animal health company in the world.) One of his responsibilities was to oversee production of vaccines, which can involve infecting living cells with weakened virus strains and inducing those cells to multiply inside large bioreactors. In addition to yielding large quantities of vaccine-grade viruses…
Not a phrase I want to hear from Pfizer.
…this approach also creates significant amounts of animal cell slurry, similar to the product next-generation protein startups want to process further into meat. Wood knew the process to be extremely technical, resource-intensive, and expensive. He didn’t understand how costly biomanufacturing techniques could ever be used to produce cheap, abundant human food.
In March of this year, he hoped he’d finally get his answer. That month, the Good Food Institute (GFI), a nonprofit that represents the alternative protein industry, published a techno-economic analysis (TEA) that projected the future costs of producing a kilogram of cell-cultured meat. Prepared independently for GFI by the research consulting firm CE Delft, and using proprietary data provided under NDA by 15 private companies, the document showed how addressing a series of technical and economic barriers could lower the production price from over $10,000 per pound today to about $2.50 per pound over the next nine years—an astonishing 4,000-fold reduction.
In the press push that followed, GFI claimed victory. “New studies show cultivated meat can have massive environmental benefits and be cost-competitive by 2030,” it trumpeted, suggesting that a new era of cheap, accessible cultured protein is rapidly approaching. The finding is critical for GFI and its allies. If private, philanthropic, and public sector investors are going to put money into cell-cultured meat, costs need to come down quickly. Most of us have a limited appetite for 50-dollar lab-grown chicken nuggets.
They’re not expecting a miracle. They’re just lying. The very last thing they want to see, is cheap, healthy animal protein in our diet. Any time your rulers want to change a system that works, it’s not because the new way is guaranteed to be better.
But they can sell the idea today because the definition of Progressivism is the faith that new=better.
With its TEA findings in hand, GFI has worked tirelessly to argue for massive public investment. Its top policy recommendation, according to GFI’s in-depth analysis of the TEA results, is aimed at “forward-thinking” governments: They “should increase public funds for R & D into cultivated meat technology” in order to “seize the opportunity and reap the benefits of becoming global leaders” in the space. In late April, just six weeks later, that message was amplified by The New York Times. In a column called “Let’s Launch a Moonshot for Meatless Meat,” Ezra Klein, a co-founder of Vox who is now one of the Times’s most visible and influential writers, argued that the U.S. government should invest billions to improve and scale both plant-based meat alternatives (like the Impossible Burger) and cultivated meat.
Socialize the costs, privatize the profits.
Bruce Friedrich, GFI’s founder and CEO, appeared in the story to argue that the need for significant public investment was urgent and necessary. “If we leave this endeavor to the tender mercies of the market there will be vanishingly few products to choose from and it’ll take a very long time,” he told Klein. The message was clear: If we want to save the planet, we should double down on cultured meat.
Translation: We must starve humans of eating meat because Climate Change.
Wood couldn’t believe what he was hearing. In his view, GFI’s TEA report did little to justify increased public investment. He found it to be an outlandish document, one that trafficked more in wishful thinking than in science. He was so incensed that he hired a former Pfizer colleague, Huw Hughes, to analyze GFI’s analysis. Today, Hughes is a private consultant who helps biomanufacturers design and project costs for their production facilities; he’s worked on six sites devoted to cell culture at scale. Hughes concluded that GFI’s report projected unrealistic cost decreases, and left key aspects of the production process undefined, while significantly underestimating the expense and complexity of constructing a suitable facility.
In an interview by phone, Wood wondered if GFI was being disingenuous—or if the organization was simply naive.
They’re evil, Mr. Wood. You want to get clear of Pfizer and its astonishing profits before the Almighty audits their account.
“After a while, you just think: Am I going crazy? Or do these people have some secret sauce that I’ve never heard of?” Wood said. “And the reality is, no—they’re just doing fermentation. But what they’re saying is, ‘Oh, we’ll do it better than anyone else has ever, ever done.”
In fact, GFI was well aware of Wood’s line of criticism. Several months earlier, Open Philanthropy—a multi-faceted research and investment entity with a nonprofit grant-making arm, which is also one of GFI’s biggest funders—completed a much more robust TEA of its own, one that concluded cell-cultured meat will likely never be a cost-competitive food. David Humbird, the UC Berkeley-trained chemical engineer who spent over two years researching the report, found that the cell-culture process will be plagued by extreme, intractable technical challenges at food scale. In an extensive series of interviews with The Counter, he said it was “hard to find an angle that wasn’t a ludicrous dead end.”
Open Philanthropy identifies outstanding giving opportunities, makes grants, follows the results, and publishes our findings. Our main funders are Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook and Asana.
The Open Philanthropy Project 501(c)(3) is governed by a Board of Directors currently consisting of Dustin Moskovitz (Chair), Cari Tuna, Divesh Makan, Holden Karnofsky, and Alexander Berger. The Open Philanthropy Project LLC is governed by a Board of Managers currently consisting of Dustin Moskovitz, Cari Tuna, Elie Hassenfeld, Holden Karnofsky, and Alexander Berger.
That’s quite a roomful of the ((usual suspects)).
Humbird likened the process of researching the report to encountering an impenetrable “Wall of No”—his term for the barriers in thermodynamics, cell metabolism, bioreactor design, ingredient costs, facility construction, and other factors that will need to be overcome before cultivated protein can be produced cheaply enough to displace traditional meat.
“And it’s a fractal no,” he told me. “You see the big no, but every big no is made up of a hundred little nos.”
GFI vetted Humbird’s report before publication and made extensive suggestions for revision. Its own TEA, released a few months later, painted a much more optimistic picture. With its own results in hand, GFI continues to urge world governments to throw money into cultivated meat. If they don’t act soon, according to one recent press release, those nations risk being “left behind.”
Standard control-the-narrative behavior.
Who’s right? Is cultured meat our best hope to save the climate, a billion-dollar boondoggle, or something in between? Will it ever make sense to produce food the way we currently make our drugs?
The stakes couldn’t be higher. In August, the United Nations released a nearly 4,000-page report amounting to what it called a “code red for humanity”: Unless the world’s nations make a vast, coordinated effort to stop burning fossil fuels and razing forests, we’ll find ourselves locked into an even more dire, unforgiving future than the one we’re facing now. At a time when bold environmental solutions are needed, we can only afford to direct public and private investment toward solutions that actually work. But without looking more closely at the fundamentals—something media has largely declined to do—we can’t know whether cultured meat is our salvation or an expensive distraction.
It’s cruelty against humanity. We were created, or evolved if you prefer, to eat animals. Full stop. And frankly, freedom of religion means that those of us who don’t have a moral problem eating animals cannot be stopped by power-hungry politicians and their Satanic paymasters.
1. The biggest small factories in the world
It’s the beginning of a shift in human thinking, enabled by biotechnology: Rather than raise entire animals, we might only grow the parts we eat. Why spend energy growing the complex, sentient structures we call cattle—complete with bones, horns, hooves, and vital organs—when we only want the finished steak? Cultivating meat inside bioreactors eliminates those inconveniences, doing away with the troublesome task of growing a body, of sustaining a consciousness.
Gram for gram, animals are a wildly inefficient vehicle for producing edible protein (as advocates for cultured meat like to point out). Cattle consume roughly 25 calories of plant material for every calorie of edible protein they produce, according to some estimates. Even chickens, the most efficient form of livestock from a feed perspective, eat 9 to 10 calories of food for every calorie of edible protein produced. Friedrich, the director of GFI, has said that’s like…
“All of the cow is wasted except for the portion consumed by humans!” Exactly the concept I am nuking with this post.
And since we’re talking about caloric efficiency… Potato Joe Biden flew a fleet of 85 limousines in a fleet of twenty-odd transport aircraft halfway across the world, to bitch about MY carbon footprint killing the planet. And then he slept through the summit and shat his diaper in public.
In contrast, the disembodied economics of cultivated meat could allow for huge production advantages, at least theoretically. According to the Open Philanthropy report, a mature, scaled-up industry could eventually achieve a ratio of only three to four calories in for every calorie out, compared to the chicken’s 10 and the steer’s 25. That would still make cultured meat much more inefficient compared to just eating plants themselves; we’d dump two plates of pasta for every one we eat. And the cells themselves might still be fed on a diet of commodity grains, the cheapest and most environmentally destructive inputs available. But it would represent a major improvement.
The future is certain, the past is unknown, the present must be radically changed!
But cultivated meat’s gains in feed efficiency give rise to new inefficiency—the need for intensive, sophisticated machinery, and lots of it.
The analysis that GFI commissioned laid out a vision of this future, predicting the emergence of a new kind of mega-facility with the power to transform our eating habits forever. The idea was to project what cultivated meat production will need to look like in the year 2030—in terms of scale and cost—if it is going to make meaningful progress toward displacing animal agriculture. In other words, if meat without slaughter is ever going to move out of the realm of exclusive press tastings and onto supermarket shelves, it will need to happen through facilities like the one the report described.
Year 2030, yep. This is UN Agenda 2030.
GFI’s imagined facility would be both unthinkably vast and, well, tiny. According to the TEA, it would produce 10,000 metric tons—22 million pounds—of cultured meat per year, which sounds like a lot. For context, that volume would represent more than 10 percent of the entire domestic market for plant-based meat alternatives (currently about 200 million pounds per year in the U.S., according to industry advocates). And yet 22 million pounds of cultured protein, held up against the output of the conventional meat industry, barely registers. It’s only about .0002, or one-fiftieth of one percent, of the 100 billion pounds of meat produced in the U.S. each year. JBS’s Greeley, Colorado beefpacking plant, which can process more than 5,000 head of cattle a day, can produce that amount of market-ready meat in a single week.
And yet, at a projected cost of $450 million, GFI’s facility might not come any cheaper than a large conventional slaughterhouse. With hundreds of production bioreactors installed, the scope of high-grade equipment would be staggering. According to one estimate, the entire biopharmaceutical industry today boasts roughly 6,300 cubic meters in bioreactor volume. (1 cubic meter is equal to 1,000 liters.) The single, hypothetical facility described by GFI would require nearly a third of that, just to make a sliver of the nation’s meat.
Higher cost would be a feature, not a bug, to the Elites. But the technical problems are only beginning.
The process, according to GFI, would begin with a 1.5-milliliter vial of production-optimized animal cells (the report doesn’t specify which livestock species)…. After 10 days, according to GFI, the cells graduate to their first bioreactor, a small, 50-liter model. In another 10 days, they would move to a much larger, 12,500-liter stirred batch reactor, the kind of steel vessel you might expect to see in a brewery, capable of holding the same volume as a backyard swimming pool. This gradual progression is necessary; you can’t just throw a small amount of cells into a large bioreactor and hope they’ll start dividing. Cells are “fastidious,” Hughes told me, and have strict metabolic requirements for growth, including oxygen tension. Because of this characteristic, more fluid is pumped into the reactor as cells multiply, maintaining a specific ratio of fluid to cells. Any cultured meat facility, real or imagined, will likely need to operate this way: with a graduated series of ever-larger reactors, like a sequence of Russian dolls…
Maintaining fluid/nutrient/cell ratios? Isn’t that what a circulatory system does?
It’s a complex, precise, energy-intensive process, but the output of this single bioreactor train would be comparatively tiny. The hypothetical factory would need to have 130 production lines like the one I’ve just described, with more than 600 bioreactors all running simultaneously. Nothing on this scale has ever existed—though if we wanted to switch to cultivated meat by 2030, we’d better start now. If cultured protein is going to be even 10 percent of the world’s meat supply by 2030, we will need 4,000 factories like the one GFI envisions, according to an analysis by the trade publication Food Navigator. To meet that deadline, building at a rate of one mega-facility a day would be too slow.
Imagine that. Cells aren’t actually soap bubbles of food with a tiny nucleus at the center like the evolutionists of Charles Darwin’s time thought. They’re actually machines built to take in machined parts in a particular context (organs). Tricking the cell into ignoring all that is so complex, you’d be better off raising the animal.
Everybody involved knew this in high school, then willed themselves to forget for the sake of agenda, then failed to ignore reality. Playing God is easy but succeeding as God, not so much.
2. A buried report?
In 2015, Open Philanthropy publicly acknowledged being vexed by the problem of cultured meat. In a long, detailed post on its website, the organization summarized everything it knew—exploring whether the emerging technology was a potentially transformative solution worthy of serious investment, or something more far-fetched. After wrestling with a number of in-the-weeds issues, from sterility challenges to scaffolding designs, Open Philanthropy concluded that it simply didn’t have enough data to draw a conclusion. “There is essentially no industrial data around cost of scaling up cell production,” it wrote.
Our beliefs are TRUE! We just can’t explain how to doubters and investors yet.
In 2018, Open Philanthropy itself stepped in to fill that gap, hiring Humbird to do a robust analysis of cultivated meat’s potential. He was the right guy. After getting his PhD in chemical engineering from UC Berkeley in 2004, Humbird used his training to go into the business of rigorous, scientifically informed predictions. Today, in addition to his work as a private-sector consultant, Humbird provides techno-economic analyses for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a renowned federally funded research center in Golden, Colorado. Most of NREL’s engineers use U.S. Department of Energy money to conceive, test, and improve upon novel green energy technologies. Humbird’s job is to look into the crystal ball. He’s one of the experts NREL contracts to figure out which approaches are viable at scale, how much they would cost, and ultimately if the government should fund them.
Humbird spent more than two years preparing his analysis for Open Philanthropy. The resulting document, which clocks in at 100 single-spaced pages with notes and appendices, is the most comprehensive public study of the challenges cultured meat companies will face. (An abridged, formally peer-reviewed version has since appeared in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering.) Their future doesn’t look good. Humbird worked off the assumption that the industry would grow to produce 100 kilotons per year worldwide—roughly the amount of plant-based “meat” produced in 2020. He found that even given those economies of scale, which would lower input and material costs to prices that don’t exist today, a facility producing roughly 6.8 kilotons of cultured meat per year would fail to create a cost-competitive product. Using large, 20,000 L reactors would result in a production cost of about $17 per pound of meat, according to the analysis. Relying on smaller, more medium-efficient perfusion reactors would be even pricier, resulting in a final cost of over $23 per pound.
Based on Humbird’s analysis of cell biology, process design, input expenses, capital costs, economies of scale, and other factors, these figures represent the lowest prices companies can expect. And if $17 per pound doesn’t sound too high, consider this: The final product would be a single-cell slurry, a mix of 30 percent animal cells and 70 percent water, suitable only for ground-meat-style products like burgers and nuggets. With markups being what they are, a $17 pound of ground cultivated meat at the factory quickly becomes $40 at the grocery store—or a $100 quarter-pounder at a restaurant. Anything resembling a steak would require additional production processes, introduce new engineering challenges, and ultimately contribute additional expense.
Though Humbird lays out his case with an unprecedented level of technical detail, his argument can be boiled down simply: The cost of cultivation facilities will always be too burdensome, and the cost of growth media will always be too high, for the economics of cultured meat to make sense. It’s a stark finding, one that’s unusually unequivocal for a scientific document—and it should have made waves in the alternative protein sphere.
Instead, few people found out about it. On December 28, 2020, heading into the New Year’s Eve holiday weekend, Humbird quietly uploaded his paper to an open-source archive for process engineering studies. As of this writing, Open Philanthropy has not referenced its groundbreaking findings on social media or its website, not even on its pages devoted to animal agriculture.
Open Philanthropy declined to be interviewed for this story. “We’ll pass on an interview in part because the full implications for grantmaking and impact investment strategy are not totally settled,” wrote Michael Levine, the organization’s communications officer, in an email.
Another blow to Open Philanthropy! The Rube Goldberg setup to create their pond scum is so expensive, they’d have to pay for it themselves. The one concept Jewish banksters hate more than Christ.
Levine did note that Open Philanthropy continues to fund “a variety of efforts to help the food industry transition from suffering-intense factory farming,” including GFI’s work.
Searching for alternatives means they are, in fact, giving up on vat meat.
“Clearly, I don’t think cultured meat has legs,” he told me. “I think I make that clear in the paper, if not in such colloquial terms. But it seems like a bunch of hooey to me.”
3. So big and so clean
In cell culture, sterility is paramount. Animal cells “grow so slowly that if we get any bacteria in a culture—well, then we’ve just got a bacteria culture,” Humbird said. “Bacteria grow every 20 minutes, and the animal cells are stuck at 24 hours. You’re going to crush the culture in hours with a contamination event.”
“A key difference in the CE Delft study is that everything was assumed to be food-grade,” Swartz said. That distinction, of whether facilities will be able to operate at food- or pharma-grade specs, will perhaps more than anything determine the future viability of cultivated meat.
The Open Philanthropy report assumes the opposite: that cultivated meat production will need to take place in aseptic “clean rooms” where virtually no contamination exists. For his cost accounting, Humbird projected the need for a Class 8 clean room—an enclosed space where piped-in, purified oxygen blows away threatening particles as masked, hooded workers come in and out, likely through an airlock or sterile gowning room. To meet international standards for airborne particulate matter, the air inside would be replaced at a rate of 10 to 25 times an hour, compared to 2 to 4 times in a conventional building. The area where the cell lines are maintained and seeded would need a Class 6 clean room, an even more intensive specification that runs with an air replacement rate of 90 to 180 times per hour.
The simple reason: In cell culture, sterility is paramount. Animal cells “grow so slowly that if we get any bacteria in a culture—well, then we’ve just got a bacteria culture,” Humbird said. “Bacteria grow every 20 minutes, and the animal cells are stuck at 24 hours. You’re going to crush the culture in hours with a contamination event.”
Viruses also present a unique problem. Because cultured animal cells are alive, they can get infected just the way living animals can.
“There are documented cases of, basically, operators getting the culture sick,” Humbird said. “Not even because the operator themselves had a cold. But there was a virus particle on a glove. Or not cleaned out of a line. The culture has no immune system. If there’s virus particles in there that can infect the cells, they will. And generally, the cells just die, and then there’s no product anymore. You just dump it.”
If even a single speck of bacteria can spoil batches and halt production, clean rooms may turn out to be a basic, necessary precondition. It may not matter if governments end up allowing cultured meat facilities to produce at food-grade specs, critics say—cells are so intensely vulnerable that they’ll likely need protection to survive.
At the scale envisioned by proponents of cultured meat, there is little room for error. But if aseptic production turns out to be necessary, it isn’t going to come cheap. Humbird found that a Class 8 clean room big enough to produce roughly 15 million pounds of cultured meat a year would cost about $40 to $50 million dollars. That figure doesn’t reflect the cost of equipment, construction, engineering, or installation. It simply reflects the materials needed to run a sterile work environment, a clean room sitting empty.
4. The price of (synthetic) blood
When cattle are processed at a slaughterhouse, workers will sometimes cut open a cow’s body and discover a fetus. Dairy cows are kept perpetually pregnant so that they can produce milk, and farms often overlook the animals’ status when they’re finally shipped out for slaughter. Once a living fetal calf is discovered inside a carcass, it’s too late for it to be born. Instead, a technician will be called in who can perform euthanasia and, from there, extract the fetus’s blood.
The resulting substance, known as fetal bovine serum (FBS), amounts to a final gift for humanity.
Among the many other uses for a dead cow from leather to dog treats. Even the manure they produce in life is a side benefit to the eventual tastiness. You can also use them for labor and milk! Neither this article nor any other discussion on vat meat considers that the rest of the cow also has utility.
According to an article in the peer-reviewed online publication Bioprocessing Journal, FBS and other animal sera have led to the development of life-saving remedies like cell and gene therapies. It’s also used in some forms of animal cell culture, including the research and development of new vaccines.
FBS would be a perfect ingredient to include in cultured meat growth media, because it contains key proteins and vitamins that cells need to maintain health and stability. In fact, it can be hard to make cells grow properly without FBS. “In many common culture media, the sole source of micronutrients is fetal bovine serum (FBS),” according to a 2013 article in the peer-reviewed journal BioMed Research International.
For cultivated meat, though, FBS is anathema. Cultured animal protein can’t really be “meat without slaughter” if it’s dependent on an ingredient that’s intertwined with the current, grim realities of commodity beef production. So cultured meat startups also face the challenge of growing their cells in FBS-free media—though that’s not going to be easy. When the alternative protein company Eat Just was approved to begin selling small amounts of cultured meat in Singapore last year, an event that was hailed as a seismic shift by the industry, it still used a small amount of fetal bovine serum in production.
…But the report provides no evidence to explain why these micronutrient costs will fall, and both Wood and Hughes expressed skepticism that they would.
“They say, oh, but these costs are just going to go away in five years or 10 years,” Hughes said. “And there’s no explanation as to how or why.”
Nutrition sources like the one sold on Alibaba will probably never work for animal cell culture, despite the attractive price tag. Because they’re not intended for human consumption, they may include heavy metals, arsenic, organic toxins, and so on. That’s a problem. Animal cells lack a rigid cell wall, so foreign substances that aren’t consumed by the cells—or that don’t kill them outright—likely end up inside the cells. In other words, cells are what they eat: If it’s in the feed, it will end up in the cultured meat.
What these factories need is a digestive system!
Swartz couldn’t immediately explain why the Alibaba powder was listed as a suitable raw ingredient in GFI’s report, though he said that the companies involved would have flagged it if they deemed it to be a problem. Still, he acknowledged that amino acids were going to be “a challenge.”
I can explain that! “Follow the science” means “tell your patrons what they want to hear”. It was Christianity that taught man to search for truth in nature. Everything else is court astrologers lying for a living, from Biblical times to now. Nothing has changed.
There is one faint reason for hope. In his report, Humbird points out that if companies can find a way to derive a full amino acid profile from cheap commodity soy, it could reduce the cost of growth medium macronutrients dramatically. Success on this front is far from assured, however. It could take years of research and development to devise a method of processing soy into forms suitable for cell culture, on a scale large enough to supply the cultured meat industry.
Yeah, no, we’re already being fed soyburgers.
5. “What do you know that we don’t know?”
On June 29, when GFI held an invite-only video call on the future of cultivated meat, it was supposed to be the standard fare: a friendly informational session for industry insiders excited by the technology’s potential. Things did not go as planned.
To kick off the audience Q & A portion of the event, Ricardo San Martin, director of the Alt:Meat Lab at UC Berkeley, began with a skeptical question to Friedrich, one informed by years of research: What do you know that we don’t know? Because, he said, the notion of scaled-up, affordable cell-cultured meat appears at odds with the current science. As San Martin told me later, “I just cannot see it.”
A contentious exchange followed. According to San Martin and another attendee on the call who confirmed his account, Friedrich argued that investor buy-in was the de facto proof that cultivated meat has legs. Major meatpackers, prominent venture capital firms, the government of Singapore: You could trust that these stakeholders had done their due diligence, and they wanted in. He also referred San Martin to GFI’s TEA report, using it to suggest that price parity was possible in the not-so-distant future.
But San Martin kept pressing. In his view, the science is essentially settled: Cultivated meat won’t be economically viable until companies can make cells grow beyond certain widely recognized biological limits. Higher cell density means more meat per batch, which in turn means the number of bioreactors can fall, and the size of the clean room can shrink.
“I’m not saying no one knows how to do it,” San Martin remembered saying. “I’m saying if someone knows, can you please share it with us?”
I love it when reality smacks Elites in the face.
What’s more likely, then, is that companies are still struggling with an inherent, widely documented challenge: the cells’ tendency to limit their own growth. Like all living things, animal cells in culture excrete waste. These so-called catabolites, which include ammonia and lactate, are toxic and can slow cell growth even at low concentrations. As San Martin puts it, “they get inhibited by their own poo-poo.”
“In cell culture for biopharmaceuticals, accumulation of toxic catabolites is a more frequently encountered limit than any physical limit of the bioreactor itself,” Humbird wrote.
The growth vats need an excretory system!
This challenge should sober any investor. Even the legendarily efficient and versatile Chinese hamster ovary cells—an immortalized cell line which has benefitted from more than 60 years of constant research and development—is “probably not efficient enough for low-cost production of bulk cell mass,” according to Humbird.
You learned something new about hamsters today.
“To me this sounds like the story of the Emperor’s Clothes,” he wrote, in an email. “It’s a fable driven by hope, not science, and when the investors finally realise this the market will collapse.”
Sterility isn’t the only challenge that becomes more grave at larger production volumes. Bigger bioreactors all also struggle to provide all of the cells with the same amount of nutrients and oxygen. The only solution is to stir the cells more rapidly, or blow more oxygen in—but both of these approaches can be fatal. Because they lack a rigid cell wall, animal cells are prone to “shear stress”; they’re fragile little things that can are easily torn apart by rising air bubbles, cell-to-cell collisions, and rotating impellers. This need for increased stirring and oxygen has historically put practical limits on bioreactor size—a problem that remains unsolved at scales well below what Tetrick envisions.
Oh that’s right, cells are designed to metabolize oxygen. We need a respiratory system!
“When cells die in large quantities, they kind of turn into this kind of slimy stuff that’s really horrible,” Hughes told me. “You really can’t afford to have that happen.”
8. The price of failure
On September 14, President Joe Biden visited NREL, the federally funded renewable energy lab that contracts Humbird for due diligence analysis. With a row of solar panels, a windmill, and a view of the Rocky Mountains behind him, Biden argued that the next 10 years will be “a decisive decade,” underscoring the need for new infrastructure in a live-streamed address.
“We don’t have a lot of time. We don’t have much more than 10 years,” he said.
His handlers at UN Agenda 2030 have made that VERY clear!
Biden described viewing the wreckage of California’s devastating Caldor fire by helicopter, just days after traveling to Louisiana, New York, and New Jersey to see the destruction from Hurricane Ida. He talked about mudslides washing out a section of Colorado’s I-70 highway, and about parents being afraid to let their children play outside when the air is filled with smoke. He talked about the droughts decimating agricultural communities, and the tropical storms battering cities across the eastern seaboard. He said that 44,000 wildfires had razed 5.6 million acres of U.S. land this year alone, “the size of the entire state of New Jersey burned flat.”
“That’s what the taste of this slop reminds me of.”
It’s easy to get swept up in that sense of possibility. I know, because the media does it, too. Cultured meat is tantalizing in its disruptive potential. The players are charismatic, even visionary in their language; there are tastings to enjoy, lab-grown samples to chew and ponder. The themes—old versus new, upstart versus incumbent, synthetic versus natural—have rich, universal appeal. It’s been so easy to dwell on the radical novelty of it, enhancing our shared sense of the world sliding toward an unfamiliar future. Maybe the arc of history really does bend toward progress. Why reckon with the technical challenges involved, when we can daydream collectively about the potential of meat without slaughter, of eating without guilt, of consumption without consequences?
But the truth is this: For cultured meat to move the needle on climate, a sequence of as-yet-unforeseen breakthroughs will still be necessary. We’ll need to train cells to behave in ways that no cells have behaved before. We’ll need to engineer bioreactors that defy widely accepted principles of chemistry and physics. We’ll need to build an entirely new nutrient supply chain using sustainable agricultural practices, inventing forms of bulk amino acid production that are cheap, precise, and safe. Investors will need to care less about money. Germs will have to more or less behave. It will be work worthy of many Nobel prizes—certainly for science, possibly for peace. And this expensive, fragile, infinitely complex puzzle will need to come together in the next 10 years.
On the other hand, none of that could happen.
It ain’t gonna happen. The Elites will make us eat bugs or something instead, but their “vat meat” dream is dead. Yes, we CAN grow cells in a culture of animal byproducts! But to do it on a large scale with no animal at all, the growth vats will also need a digestive system, excretory system, respiratory system, immune system and circulatory system.
We DO need the rest of the cow to get a steak. That beautiful, self-replicating, affordable bovine of a million uses.
Moo, baby, moo!