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The Coming Disruption of Animal Production

It will be easier to persuade people to avoid meat from animals if they can still eat meat and other animal products that taste like the products they know, but do not require raising, feeding, and killing a live animal. And recent technological and regulatory developments suggest that 2023 could be the turning point.

MELBOURNE – One day, we may look back on 2023 as the year when it became apparent that the gigantic industry of raising animals for food was heading the same way as the industry that for most of the twentieth century dominated how we record and store images. Is this year the equivalent, for animal production, of 1989, when the first digital camera aimed at the general public was launched?

There are signs that it might be, starting with the Israeli Ministry of Health’s approval, in April, of a dairy product that does not come from cows or other lactating animals. Remilk, the manufacturer, is a company on an ambitious mission: “creating dairy that is a far superior version of itself.”

Forty years ago, Genentech used then-novel recombinant DNA techniques to create genetically modified bacteria that would produce human insulin for diabetics that was better, and less expensive, than insulin obtained from the pancreases of pigs. In a similar manner, Remilk copies DNA from cows into yeasts so that they create a product that is, Remilk says, identical to cow’s milk, minus the lactose that makes milk hard to digest for some people, and also free of cholesterol, antibiotics, and growth hormones.