Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

Pioneering Collaboration for Lab-Grown Fish

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From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lab-Grown Fish

Mains level : Read the attached story

Introduction 

  • ICAR-Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), headquartered in Kochi, collaborated with Neat Meatt Biotech, a private-sector start-up specializing in lab-grown meat technology.
  • This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) marks the first initiative of its kind in India.

Understanding Lab-Grown Fish

  • Lab-Grown Fish Definition: Lab-grown fish, a type of cultivated or cultured meat, is seafood produced in a laboratory setting without the need to raise and slaughter animals.
  • Production Process: Specific fish cells are isolated and grown in a controlled laboratory environment using animal-free media. The goal is to replicate the taste, texture, and nutritional qualities of traditional fish meat.

Roles of CMFRI and Neat Meatt

  • CMFRI’s Responsibilities: Under the MoU, CMFRI will focus on genetic, biochemical, and analytical aspects of the project. Its cell culture lab will research early cell line development for high-value marine fish species, including pomfret, kingfish, and seerfish.
  • Neat Meatt’s Expertise: Neat Meatt, with expertise in cell culture technology, will lead in optimizing cell growth media, developing scaffolds or microcarriers for cell attachment, and scaling up production via bioreactors. The company will also provide consumables, manpower, and additional equipment.

Addressing the Need for Lab-Grown Fish

  • Growing Demand: The demand for seafood is increasing, creating pressure on wild resources.
  • Overfishing Consequences: Overfishing has led to population declines in certain species and negatively impacted marine ecosystems.
  • Environmental Benefits: Lab-grown fish meat can reduce the reliance on traditional fishing, offering antibiotic-free, contamination-free, and pollution-free alternatives.

Global Pioneers in Lab-Grown Fish

  • Leading Nations: Several countries are advancing lab-grown fish technology. Israel is a frontrunner, followed by Singapore, the United States, and China.
  • Recent Developments: Israel-based Forsea Foods successfully produced lab-grown freshwater eel meat. Israel’s Steakholder Foods, in collaboration with Umami Meats in Singapore, 3D printed the first-ever ready-to-cook fish fillet from laboratory-grown animal cells.

Bridging India’s Gap

  • Accelerating Development: The CMFRI-Neat Meatt partnership aims to expedite India’s progress in lab-grown seafood to ensure it doesn’t lag behind countries like Singapore, Israel, and the USA.
  • Leveraging Expertise: CMFRI’s marine research and Neat Meatt’s technological prowess form a collaboration that promises a sustainable future for seafood production in India.
  • Timeline Expectation: Dr. Sandeep Sharma of Neat Meatt anticipates establishing the project’s proof of concept within a few months.

Expanding Lab-Grown Meat

  • Wide Range: Beyond fish, lab-grown meat development encompasses chicken, pork, lamb, beef, and more.
  • Global Industry Growth: The lab-grown meat industry has expanded to over 150 companies across six continents, with $2.6 billion in investments.
  • US Regulatory Clearance: In June 2023, the US Department of Agriculture approved the sale of lab-grown chicken meat, allowing companies like Good Meat and Upside Foods to supply it to restaurants and supermarkets.

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