We’ve put together the most common questions we get asked about cellular agriculture or CAS.
If you have a question that you can’t find here, please contact us directly for more information.
What is cellular agriculture?
Cellular agriculture (or CellAg for short) refers to the process of farming real animal products from cells instead of entire animals.
Why is cellular agriculture important?
Encompassed in our slogan, For the People, for the Animals, for the World, cellular agriculture poses solutions to three main categories of problems caused by intensive animal agriculture:
People often get sick from contaminated animal products and a growing world population in the coming decades will require a higher demand for animal products than humanity can produce.
Animals primarily live in crowded, unnatural conditions which can cause them harm. Because they need to be killed in large quantities to supply the world with animal products, compromises are often made in modern farming which sacrifices their welfare.
The World does not have enough environmental resources to produce animal products as demand continues to rise; there isn’t enough food, water, and land to sustainably continue intensive animal agriculture.
To learn more about cellular agriculture’s potential to change the world, check out 90 Reasons to Consider Cellular Agriculture
Who is involved in cellular agriculture?
Cellular agriculture is currently being driven by investors, who fund startups working on cellular agriculture, companies, who work towards releasing products commercially, and nonprofits, who promote the concept and build the field of cellular agriculture.
Where is cellular agriculture’s development taking place?
Cellular agriculture companies, nonprofits, and advocates can be found all over the world, but historically, most of CellAg's early development has taken place in the United States.
When will cellular agriculture products be commercially available, how is cellular agriculture similar to GMOs, what will cell-ag need to do in order to displace traditional meat products, how should cell-ag products be labeled, what might the next hundred years hold for cell-ag?
We’ve answered all of these questions and more in our interview with FeedStuffs
What is the purpose of CAS (The Cellular Agriculture Society)?
CAS is an international, independent 501c3 public charity, founded to advance understanding of cellular agriculture.
Is CAS available for speaking engagements? What fees are incumbent for setting up such events?
Yes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to share details on the nature of your event. All proceeds (with the exception of travel fees) will be accepted as tax-deductible donations to the Cellular Agriculture Society.
**Note – if our team is unavailable for in-person events, video conferencing stands as a possibility as well
Why is a system of cellular agriculture more viable than society shifting towards plant-based foods or faux materials?
For thousands of years, vegetarianism & veganism have stood as diets that address most of the issues intensive animal agriculture presents. While a small percentage of global society consciously decides to abstain from animal products, the majority has yet to find this lifestyle compelling enough to change. We would suspect this is primarily due to the difficulty in its practical application, and so, changing the method of production for animal products rather than the products themselves can give humanity the animal foods and materials that they’ve enjoyed for millennia without the current issues that come along with it.
Furthermore, while plant-based, mock meats and other pseudo animal products have loyal consumer bases, they are indeed small, and we at CAS do not envision plant-based meats, for instance, being able to mimic animal-based meat identically due to fundamental cellular differences in the biological kingdoms they represent.
What problems may cellular agriculture bring about?
At CAS, we think it’s important to speak honestly about the potential benefits and drawbacks of cellular agriculture. Some issues with cell-ag may be in its eventual capacity to perfectly recreate any type of animal product, negatively impact the farming industry, and sustainability inefficiencies with regards to its environmental impact. All of these must be taken with a grain of salt, just as much as the benefits we often refer to in 90 Reasons to Consider Cellular Agriculture.
Ultimately, while we do see potential problems that could arise with cellular agriculture, we must remain honest, vigilant, and unblinded by our support for the concept today. While we do indeed foresee far more benefits than drawbacks, which serves as the impetus for our support, if cellular agriculture fails in properly producing animal products that properly deliver to the public, we will be the staunchest critics.
For additional perspective on the potential drawbacks of CellAg, please refer to our continued discussion of the topic here.
Is cellular agriculture the same or similar to cloning?
Cellular agriculture products are made by mimicking the processes that occur naturally in an animal’s body. When the muscle cells within a cow's body, for instance, duplicate through the process of mitosis, this is not considered "cloning" so we extend the same logic. "Cloning" in relation to CellAg is also used as a sensationalist term, often used to try to smear the concept by antagonistic parties. Further, cloning is the process of creating a whole new living organism, while cellular agriculture isn’t doing that, but instead, ultimately producing non-living animal products from cells.
Are cellular agriculture products natural?
It depends upon the frame of reference — if referring to its naturalness in comparison to conventional animal products, we find cellular agriculture products to be equally natural/unnatural compared to what the norm is currently from intensive animal agriculture, primarily CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). These CAFOs place animals in environments that are far from "natural", by definition, where animals existences used to be, in nature.
A simple Google Search of a term more often used by the public, “factory farming”, can give you an insight into the unnatural practices that are commonplace today. It is also important to note that food products that are “unnatural” by the definition of “not occurring normally throughout nature” are eaten daily by cultures/people around the world like cheese and protein powder.
We think a better concern is for the safety of cellular agriculture products. For instance, most people are aware that medicine and certain foods are not completely natural, but because these products are generally accepted to be safe, society consumes them at high rates. The same goes for our philosophy at CAS towards cellular agriculture products: we only advocate for products that hold the promise to have exceptional safety, and upon commercialization, we will only stand by cell-ag products that are proven safe through rigorous testing.
Does CAS conduct cellular agriculture research?
Our mission at CAS is to engage with projects that we think will best accelerate the field of cellular agriculture forward. At this point, we believe that design & video, instead of natural science research, are the optimal project areas for us to focus on.
There exist a multitude of research challenges for cellular agriculture, many being tackled by the growing industry and CellAg academics around the world. While we have supported efforts in social science research and small-scale natural science research in the past, we believe the serious R&D developments that are necessary to scale up cellular agriculture commercialization in the next couple of decades are efforts that for-profit companies are best suited for.
With their resources and talent, it can be difficult to match what the for-profit side is doing in the private sector so this, as well as the fact that we're not equipped, expertise or human resource-wise, to help notably with such efforts means we, as a member of a collective community, need to advance CellAg forward in ways that a nonprofit like CAS is more suited for than for-profit companies. This is how we focus our attention, as well as prioritizing neglected, fertile areas of cellular agriculture over natural science research.
What is Project CMF and 90 Reasons to Consider Cellular Agriculture?
Project CMF & 90 Reasons to Consider Cellular Agriculture represent two of our most well-known efforts at CAS. CMF and 90 Reasons are the world's first design of a future meat production using cellular agriculture and a comprehensive list of CellAg's potential benefits, respectively.
Learn more about Project CMF
Learn more about 90 Reasons
How will future cellular agriculture facilities like CMF address food safety?
We and our Industry Partners understand that cellular agriculture-produced foods needs to be made with the highest of safety standards. While the sterile production process itself should prevent food contamination in a facility like Project CMF, efforts are being made to ensure security and safety measures are built into every layer of the production line, ensuring CellAg foods reach their superior safety potential.