- 12. Feb 2024
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FEASTS launched: a research project on cultured meat and seafood explores the future of protein
The Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the Faculty of Medicine works as a consortium partner within the FEASTS program. FEASTS is a groundbreaking, collaborative research programme funded by the EU Horizon Programme, with the goal to deliver a comprehensive, unbiased knowledge base about cultured meat and seafood, and their place in the food system.
In the scope of the FEASTS project, the research group will participate in the evaluation of biological safety of materials and processes that could be used in future food production technologies and provide recommendations for process design and material selection.
- FEASTS is a groundbreaking, collaborative research programme funded by the EU Horizon Programme, with the goal to deliver a comprehensive, unbiased knowledge base about cultured meat and seafood, and their place in the food system.
- The focus is firmly on sustainability by design, an interdisciplinary approach and knowledge sharing.
- FEASTS’ central commitment in exploring the future of protein is to include the perspectives of all those involved in producing our food – from farm to fork and beyond.
The FEASTS (Fostering European Cellular Agriculture for Sustainable Transition Solution) programme, which launched in December 2023, will be conducted by a consortium of 36 independent institutions from 17 countries. Over the next 3 years, participants will delve into the technologies involved in the sustainable production of cultured meat and seafood. They will investigate nutritional, health and regulatory aspects, as well as issues of food safety related to these complementary proteins. Ethical questions connected with cultured meat and seafood will be addressed. Environmental, economic and social life cycle analysis will feed into dynamic systems models and expand the understanding of the multi-dimensional impact of cellular agriculture on the environment and the food value chain.
The FEASTS consortium includes leading universities and research institutes, start-ups, business accelerators, independent consultants, international food innovation initiatives, representatives of farmers and aquafarmers and a consumer association. Also inviting input from food system stakeholders, FEASTS will provide a forum for open and informed discussion about the role of cellular agriculture in meeting the growing demand for protein. Solutions developed over the life of the project will take into account such considerations as food security and just transitions for farmers and aquafarmers.
With growing environmental challenges that threaten global food production while the demand for protein is increasing, we need to investigate new production approaches that are sustainable and complementary to traditional farming.Dr. Boštjan Vihar, senior researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Maribor
An important part of FEASTS is exploring how cultured meat and seafood technologies can contribute to the future of farming. As all cellular agriculture products require the contribution of traditional agriculture, FEASTS will actively involve farmers in designing processes and future scenarios which will generate fair economic returns for them. Another topic of study will be the impact on consumers. Knowledge gaps regarding nutrition and food safety will be addressed with
the requisite rigour and transparency, while workshops and focus group studies will put consumer preferences and the vibrant, diverse food cultures of Europe at the heart of research on acceptance of new products on tables across the EU.
Animal farming in the current food system generates 17% of the total greenhouse gas emissions while supplying only 18% of the global calories and 37% of the global proteins. Cellular agriculture, specifically cultured meat and seafood, has the potential to mitigate the negative effects of current intensive agricultural methods on human and animal health, and to address nutritional challenges, which the EU is facing. One of the goals of FEASTS is to establish a stewardship model for the European Union’s cultured meat and seafood sector and support its future competitiveness. The ambition is to create a framework for sustainable production resulting in safe, nutritious, and widely accessible cultured products available to all consumers.
Prof. Frederico Ferreira, FEASTS Project Manager & Coordinator from Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon said: “Our aim with FEASTS, which has been designed as a think-tank, is to expand the knowledge related to cultured meat and seafood so we can future-proof protein supply. We are focused on responsible innovation and principles of open science to ensure data-sharing, reproducibility and, ultimately, access to the project’s findings by key stakeholders. We also welcome input from any institutions operating in the food system which are not yet part of the project. Together, we will create a unique opportunity for an effective reorganisation of the food system and the establishment of resilient value chains in the EU.”
About the Institute of Biomedical Sciences
The Institute of Biomedical Sciences was established as the first research unit of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Maribor. Since its inception in 2005, the group has actively brought together clinical and preclinical experts from home and abroad to develop new therapeutic, diagnostic and other technologies and push the boundaries of research both at the Faculty and in the wider region. Today, the group’s main focus is on regenerative medicine, both in terms of finding advanced drug delivery systems and patient-friendly solutions for wound care, and in developing in vitro models of tissues and diseases that bring new understanding of pathophysiology and enable the development of new therapies and personalised medicine. Their mission is on finding concrete solutions to pressing clinical problems, where they seek joint solutions in collaborations with clinical and industrial partners. Recently, their work has also extended towards translational medicine, that will lead to concrete benefits for patients. Their work is facilitated by the state-of-the-art research infrastructure available at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Maribor. This includes equipment for preparation, characterisation and design of materials, cell cultures in 2D and 3D environments, as well as a wide range of analytical methods for assessing the growth and development of cell cultures at different scales – from molecules to tissues.
FEASTS is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or Horizon Europe. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.