You can’t get a more politically correct foodstuff: a group of volunteer researchers in California are working on method to produce cheese directly in a lab, without any intervention of cows. The trick is to identify the “milk protein” in animal DNA and then recode the DNA of yeast to produce milk and, finally cheese. Apparently, this is not as mad-cow crazy as it sounds.
According to the researchers the cheese will also be okay for lactose intolerant foodies, since the sugar used in the fermentation process is not lactose.
Even if you are not a vegan or lactose intolerant, you have to remember that the production of milk from cows has a high carbon footprint, cows produce a large amount of methane — a greenhouse effect gas, and the animals themselves are often cruelly mistreated and rarely live a full and healthy life.
And if that were not enough to convince you of the benefits of bovineless dairy, all the research will be distributed under open licenses and any patentable inventions and processes will be dumped to the public domain.
The researchers have already surpassed the original $15,000 they were seeking to raise via crowdfunding, and are well on the way to achieve the $30,000 stretch goal that would allow them to purchase a Large Yeast Bioreactor (LYB) that will allow them to produce more cheese (grams versus milligrams) in one go.
Whether the final product will be able to stand up to a nice, smelly chunk of delicious roquefort, or will be instead more like a bland and tasteless cream cheese, remains to be seen. This cheese-addict at least can’t wait to try the new synthi-cheese as a topping on his homemade pizza.
Photo: By MaxStraeten for Morguefile.com