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Centre invests ₹4.5 crore in cell-based mutton research project

In what could be a boost for cell-based meat in India, the Centre has approved a ₹4.5 crore grant to two premier Hyderabad-based institutions for research into this technology that involves growing animal cells in a laboratory to produce slaughter-free meat.

The grant, from the Department of Biotechnology, is for an 18-month project, which will look into developing methods to cultivate stem cells from tissue samples of sheep, to produce mutton. The project will be carried out jointly by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), which operates under the aegis of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the National Research Centre on Meat (NRCM), which was set up by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

‘Major initiative’

Announcing the development on Thursday, CCMB director Rakesh Mishra said that the funding was among the highest by any government in the short history of cell-based meat. “This funding has been given to CCMB to develop technology to take laboratory cell culture process to cell-based meat production which can be scalable,” he said. “This funding is one of the major initiatives by any government body across the world and much-needed encouragement for other agencies and industry to participate.”

Proponents of cell-based meat claim that it is healthier for the planet — by reducing land and water usage — as well as for consumers. It could potentially do away with the need for modern factory-farming and issues such as animal cruelty, salmonella and e-coli infections and antibiotic-laced meat.

‘Tasty, affordable’

“Our aim is to feed 10 billion people globally by 2050, by creating a platform for tasty, affordable protein,” claimed Varun Deshpande, the India managing director for Good Food Institute, which has already partnered with the Maharashtra government and a Mumbai institution to set up a Centre of Excellence in Cellular Agriculture, which hopes to begin offering taste tests of cell-based meat samples by next year. “Beyond the research stage, this is a tremendous opportunity for investment by the Indian business community, including conventional meat producers,” he added.

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Printable version | Oct 2, 2020 5:10:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-invests-45-crore-in-cell-based-mutton-research-project/article26945834.ece

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