Preserving the Environment

Would You Eat Cheese Created in a Lab?

July 24, 2014
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Would You Eat Cheese Created in a Lab?
Veganbaking.net/Flickr Creative Commons
We've created numerous other things in a Petri dish, so why not gouda or cheddar?

No animals will be harmed in the making of this cheese.

Seriously.

A team of “biohackers” in Oakland, Calif. are trying to develop an ethical cheese that doesn’t require any milk. Their product — called Real Vegan Cheese — will use genetically-altered yeast to create a vegan cheese protein, Modern Farmer reports.

You might be asking, what’s the problem with real cheese? A cursory Internet search will show you how many cows are treated by Big Dairy. (There are some pretty horrific results.) In short, these cows are fed antibiotics and growth hormones, live in confined spaces, use up a lot of resources and create greenhouse gases.

And even though there are already soy- and nut-based cheese alternatives, many say that cashew and almond varieties don’t hold a candle to the real milky deal.

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That’s why these Bay Area researchers have answered the (cattle) call. “The really awesome thing about doing cheese this way is it’s a renewable source of cheese,” team member and molecular biologist Craig Rouskey told East Bay Express. “We’re not going out to harvest nuts to do this. We’re not using cows that are totally polluting the environment. We are actually using a closed system.”

So how is this cheese made? According to the group’s successfully-funded Indiegogo campaign, “It all begins with regular old baker’s yeast. Through synthetic biology, we engineer our yeast to become milk-protein factories, churning out real milk proteins (known as caseins). These milk proteins are then combined with water, vegan sugar and oil to make a kind of milk which is ultimately converted into Real Vegan Cheese using the age-old cheese-making process.”

The team also points out it’s not technically a GMO product since you won’t be eating this obviously modified yeast, but the proteins it creates.

After securing funding ($17,000 and counting), the team is now working to create something that’s actually edible by this fall. Pending FDA approval, of course.

Can’t be any different than lab-grown meat, right?

[ph]

MORE: Should You Plate Up Genetically-Modified Salmon?

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