Researchers active in the food sector on Tuesday showed a giant meatball made from the meat obtained in the laboratory from the cells of a mammoth. The event took place at the Nemo science museum in Amsterdam and the meatball was displayed under a glass bell by the Australian synthetic meat company Vow.
Proteins of the past have shown the way for future foods, the scientists said during the presentation, but to be able to try mammoth meat we will have to wait a little longer: the thousand-year-old proteins require safety tests before today’s humans can absorb them.
“We chose woolly mammoth meat because it’s a symbol of the damage from previous climate changes” that wiped out the animal, explained Tim Noakesmith, co-founder of Vow. Noakesmith added that we risk “facing a similar fate if we don’t do things differently, including changing practices like large-scale farming and the way we eat.”
The meat was ‘cultured’ over a period of several weeks by scientists who first identified the DNA sequence of mammoth myoglobin, a key protein that gives the meat its flavour. By filling in some gaps in the sequence of mammoth myoglobin with genes from the African elephant, the mammoth’s closest living relative, it was then inserted into sheep cells using an electrical charge.
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