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Artificial meat from tobacco plants.

Artificial meat is still controversial but continues to develop.

Although the number of companies producing this in vitro meat is growing, they face several obstacles: its approval for the European market and the ability to produce on a large scale.

© Marie Fontaine -

Before becoming a steak, the cells need amino acids, nutrients and growth factors of animal origin to reproduce. All of these elements, which are very expensive for producers, are present in fetal bovine serum collected at the slaughterhouse and used in this culture.

Therefore, the challenge of large-scale in vitro meat production is to stop using this fetal serum.
cultured meat

In Israel, the company BioBetter may have found a solution to this problem, thanks to an unexpected ingredient: tobacco.

Tobacco Plantation
Tobacco Plantation

According to the project's initiators, this alternative is not only more environmentally friendly, but also more ethical and economical.

Economic advantages:

The Israeli company decided to exploit the inherent advantages of tobacco plants by transforming them into bioreactors (fermenters) for protein production.

"These plant-based bioreactors are a natural and efficient sink for greenhouse gases, absorbing CO2 and releasing O2 into the atmosphere," says BioBetter.

Therefore, in addition to ethical and environmental commitments, economic viability is also important. According to BioBetter, it costs no more than one dollar per gram to produce the meat.

BioBetter thus opens the door to mass production of artificial meat.

Meat culture in laboratory
Meat culture in laboratory

Beyond the controversy, growth factors from livestock production are available in limited supply.

Another way to obtain these substances is through yeast (or bacterial) fermentation. But this solution requires very expensive facilities.

In contrast, tobacco plantations are much less expensive and, even better, they allow all year-round harvesting, with up to four growth cycles per year.

Finally, BioBetter does not only offer solutions for the food industry. Indeed, the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries have also caught their attention. The startup claims to be able to produce various advanced proteins, such as antibodies.

Israel has become a major destination for "meatless meat" research. Israeli companies in this sector have invested more than $500 million in 2021, just behind American startups - about $700 million.


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