Lab-Grown Meat and Blockchain


#1

Hey guys, Rafi here.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about clean meat (grown from cells in lab conditions) and there are myriad advantages over traditional farming. The most obvious is also the most impactful; if you’re simply growing the cells you want, you’re saving an enormous amount of energy/calories/greenhouse gases.

One of the potential applications of this technology is what would essentially be a 3-D printer for steaks/chops/organic matter, and “recipes” would by nature be proprietary and protected. Could a blockchain keep that data public yet encrypted so anyone could pay a small fee to “print” a branded/designer steak, but wouldn’t be able to download the “recipe” for themselves?


#2

If we put blockchain usefulness on the side for this particular case my question is
how are you going to “print organs” given that current frontiers in science barely manage
to deal with organoids.
In the other words if you find way to grow/print organs you will be candidate for nobel price.


#3

In this particular case you don’t have to grow organs at all, you’re simply growing muscle fibers with some fat mixed in. That’s something the scientific community has well in hand. If you put cells in good conditions, they’ll perform mitosis, that’s what cells do.

Growing organs is absolutely not out of the question, but it’s further away at the moment.

As of now, there’s a company in the US (Memphis Meats) that plans to offer a lab-grown meat dish on its menu by 2019. They’re actually hoping to have the price down to around $11 a burger by 2020, which would make it reasonably competitive.

The thing is, once there’s scale with this, it’s infinitely more cost-effective than traditional methods simply because you need far fewer calories to grow the muscle, as you don’t have to provide energy for a whole animal with organs to walk around and breathe and eat etc. Nor do you have to pay someone to kill it.

When you’re growing these muscle fibers, you can add whatever you like, within reason, to the substrate, so that in theory you could infuse Texas BBQ sauce into the very cells of your steaks. That will require a very large amount of proprietary information though.


#4

Biology aside, here are my two cents regarding how blockchain can play into this:

You know how you can send messages with a transaction in NEM? In theory, you could encrypt this message and only those authorized could open and view the recipe via a multi-signature account. Someone could implement a system to be added to this list of authorized viewers for a small fee, as mentioned. This is fairly simple to do actually.

Another way this could be done is simply when the payment is made, a mosaic representing a recipe is sent to the buyer with the encrypted recipe attached. This way, only the buyer can open it yet it is still public on the blockchain.


#5

That’s actually a great idea! I think it’s something that will be applicable in the real-world within a couple of years, so it could be an interesting project to launch especially in developing nations. If you could provide recipes and cultures, they can grow the rest with very little further input.

Who could grant access though?


#6

Well, I would expect the creator of the recipe (company/individual) could decide access. As you said, there could be “opensource” recipes which people can modify and sell.


#7

right, but is there any kind of override/authority? What if some malicious entity was selling a poisonous recipe or something?


#8

What does the meat eat?


#9

The meat doesn’t have to eat, per se. It can be grown on media like agar that provide all the necessary nutrients for mitosis.


#10

You cannot grow meat on agar.
You guy are all on acid!


#11

Maybe not a full on steak, but you can certainly culture animal muscle cells in agar or similar substrates/lattices.


#12

LOL you can’t.

In order not to divert far from block chain topic


#13

Yes, in the future we will probably eat only lab-grown meats. I think blockchain could be used in the way you suggested. I am unsure whether the benefits of that approach would outweigh the costs. Centralized systems, such as those used for borrowing ebooks already work fairly well. As the barriers to entry for blockchain recede, I think these case will get stronger and stronger.


#15

Fair enough, but the specifics aren’t really the point here.
Thanks for the info though :slight_smile:


#16

That’s the question, I think there’s a lot of decentralization going on now that doesn’t need to happen. Buzzwords aren’t always the solution