Australian media are reporting a cultured meat company there created a lab-grown meatball made from “genetic information” of the extinct woolly mammoth.
The woolly meatball from startup Vow was unveiled March 28 at the Nemo science museum in Amsterdam. Recall that the world’s first cultured meat was created by researchers at a Netherlands university in 2013.
"This is not an April Fool's joke," Tim Noakesmith, founder of Australian startup Vow, was quoted by Associated Press. "This is a real innovation."
Vow used publicly available genetic information from the mammoth, filled missing parts with genetic data from its closest living relative, the African elephant, and inserted it into a sheep cell, Noakesmith said. Given the right conditions in a lab, the cells multiplied until there were enough to roll up into the meatball.
The mammoth meatball is a one-off and has not been tasted, even by its creators, AP reported, nor is it planned to be put into commercial production. Instead, it was presented as a source of protein that would get people talking about the future of meat.
"We wanted to get people excited about the future of food being different to potentially what we had before,” Noakesmith told Associated Press. “That there are things that are unique and better than the meats that we're necessarily eating now, and we thought the mammoth would be a conversation starter and get people excited about this new future."
Vow is hoping to sell its first product — a cultivated Japanese quail meat — later this year in Singapore, the only country in the world to approve cultured meat. Here in the U.S., Upside Foods was the first to receive an initial non-objection letter from FDA, that coming last November, followed by Good Meat this March. Both companies are developing cultured chicken. A commercial product appears at least a year away.