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The UK Government’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has highlighted the critical role that alt-proteins like cell-based meat can play in achieving key national objectives for economic growth and food production.

The government’s National Vision for Engineering Biology will invest £2 billion in research, development and infrastructure over the next 10 years, including in the UK’s cell-based meat industry.

UK companies in the cell-based meat and fermentation sectors are highlighted in the strategy, which also states that alt-proteins can enable climate and food security goals by “reducing pressure on land use for pasture”.

Peer-reviewed research shows that cell-based meat could require up to 90% less land than conventional beef production and cut the climate impact of meat by up to 92%.

DSIT found that there is a “critical shortage” of infrastructure to support alt-protein entrepreneurs looking to scale up their processes and noted that making cell-based meat does not require the same “over-engineered” equipment as the life sciences sector.

The strategy highlights changes to regulations as a major opportunity to grow the UK’s alt-protein sector and recognises the risk that product development is being “stifled” by current processes.

It confirmed that 3-5 new ‘regulatory sandboxes’ would be created to enable swift and robust product safety assessment across the field of engineering biology.

The Food Standards Agency announced that it will bid for a new cell-based meat regulatory sandbox to support innovation.

Linus Pardoe, UK policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “We warmly welcome the government’s National Vision for Engineering Biology and its clear support for alternative proteins like cultivated meat. Through smart regulatory reforms and ambitious public investments in research, development and infrastructure, the UK has a golden opportunity to cement its position among the world’s most forward-thinking countries in this sector.

He continued: “Action must now follow this vision: establishing new food-grade pilot facilities, forging a new cultivated meat regulatory sandbox and investing in the alternative protein workforce should all be top priorities for UK science and innovation over the rest of the decade.”

Cell-based meat backed by new government science strategy

Phoebe Fraser

8 December 2023

Cell-based meat backed by new government science strategy

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