Scientists in Amsterdam have revealed a new delicacy: a meatball made from lab-grown meat from an extinct woolly mammoth. Australian firm Vow created the product, which is currently on exhibit at the NEMO science museum in the Dutch capital. The meatball has been grown for several weeks in a lab and was created using the DNA sequence of mammoth myoglobin, the protein that gives meat its flavour. The meatball contains genes from the African elephant, the closest living relative of the woolly mammoth. It has not yet passed safety tests.
Co-founder of Vow Tim Noakesmith said that they chose woolly mammoth meat because “it’s a symbol of loss, made extinct by previous climate changes.” He added that “we face a similar fate if we don’t do the right things.” Scientists hope that alternative food sources, such as lab-grown meat or plant-based alternatives, could help mitigate the environmental impact of global meat consumption, which has nearly doubled since the 1960s and represents 14.5% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.Vow, based in Sydney, does not intend to stop people from eating meat but instead hopes to provide a more sustainable and better-tasting alternative. Noakesmith describes himself as a “frustrated vegetarian” and says that Vow wants to show that the “future of food can be better and more sustainable.”
While Vow’s mammoth meatball has yet to be deemed safe for consumption, its creation could pave the way for future foods grown in a lab.