Very few details of the experiment have been revealed, but according to Irina Savchenkova, chairman of the scientific group, the technology allowed the meat to grow from cells to small cuts of about 10 grams in a tube within one month.
The total batch of Russia’s lab-grown meat weighed about 100 grams at a cost of $50,000 per kg.
Savchenkova added that, at the moment, this meat was only experimental. Human consumption would only be allowed after additional research had been conducted over the next two to three years.
At the same time, executives from the institute believe that, in 10-20 years, giant biological reactors for the fast and cheap production of cultured meat will be developed.
No need for cultured meat in Russia
However, other Russian scientists believe the country will have no need for cultured meat and, in future, it will be only be produced for export. Phillip Jaitovich Ph D, at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, suggested the main reason why the global meat industry could shift to cultured meat was a shortage of drinking water.
However, Russia has enormous water resources, as only Baikal Lake contains 20% of the world’s drinking water resources. In this regard, Jaitovich claimed that cultured meat could be of interest for countries in the Middle East and, possibly, for Japan in coming decades. In addition, the consumption of the cultured meat could incur safety issues, he suggested.
“Our body is a complex biological system, where the human flesh is adjacent to a large number of bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract and help us to digest food. This community – humans and bacteria – is accustomed to a certain type of food. If we begin to eat products that, on several levels, differ from normal food, there may be an imbalance or inflammation issues,” Jaitovich said.
With this in mind, cultured meat is likely to encounter the same kind of challenges currently faced by genetically modified organisms (GMO) in Russia. The country’s authorities have placed consistent pressure on this sector over past few years, in particular banning the cultivation of GMO crops within the territory of Russia and demanding strict labelling of imported GMO.
No legal base
Also, as there is no legal framework for lab-grown meat in Russia so far, Russia’s veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor has refrained from commenting on the issue, saying only that the regulator is monitoring the situation. Meanwhile, according to current veterinary legislation, cultured meat can not be imported into Russia, as it does not match several technical requirements in terms of product origin.