Podcast

The 3 pathways to alternative proteins

How biotech could replace conventional livestock agriculture.

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Conventional livestock agriculture, especially beef production, is a huge climate problem. It is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

But there’s good news: Alternative proteins are hot. Products in this category, including the Impossible Burger and Oatly, aim to replicate the taste and texture of conventional meat and dairy — but with drastically less carbon pollution.

These alternatives are breaking into fast food, fine dining and grocery stores. They’re garnering big-time investment, and they have the potential to displace a large portion of humanity’s livestock production. 

But the umbrella category of alternative protein” covers a smorgasbord of technologies. What are they, and how do they work? And where should finite research and development resources be targeted?

In this episode, Shayle talks to Liz Specht, the vice president of science and technology at the Good Food Institute. Liz explains the three main pillars of alternative protein technology: plant-based proteins, microbial fermentation and cultivated (or lab-grown) meat. Shayle and Liz discuss the technical bottlenecks in each of these pathways, including bioreactors, developing new crops and deriving new cell lines. They talk about not just mimicking the properties of conventional meat and dairy but even surpassing them. Plus, Liz recommends the one alternative meat you should try this weekend. 

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