Your Next Leather Wallet Could Be Grown In A Petri Dish


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For a few years now there has been a buzz about the possibility of synthetically produced steaks.  However, there has always been an ethical issue connected to it.  The company has now switched its focus to laboratory leather.  Andras Forgacs, CEO of Modern Meadow, says "Our emphasis first is not on meat.  The main reason is that, technically, skin is a simpler structure than meat, making it easier to produce."  People are less likely to try eating a modern technological marvel than they are buying a piece of leather that did not involve killing an animal.  Within five years a full-scale leather production facility could be running.

leatherwallet.jpeg

There are currently five steps Modern Meadow will use to create their synthetic leather.

Step 1-Source cells by taking punch biopsies of donor animals. Isolate the extracted cells and possibly make beneficial genetic modifications for leather.

Step 2- Multiply the millions of extracted cells into billions and billions in a bioreactor. Centrifuge the products to eliminate the growth medium from the cells and then lump cells together to create aggregated spheres of cells.

Step 3- Put the cell aggregates together in layers and allow them to fuse together.

Step 4- Put the newly fused cells in a bioreactor and give them time to mature.

Step 5- After several weeks, no more food is provided to the cells. Skin tissue turns to hide. Because the hides do not have hair or tough outer skin on them, they go through an abbreviated tanning process that decreases the amount of toxic chemicals needed.

 "Nothing we're doing requires a scientific leap of faith," Forgacs says. "There's no science we're using that we're not confident with. This isn't about scientific risks, it's about engineering challenges."

I am all for this idea.  Anyway we can improve the production process of anything, I'm all ears for.  Imagine the numerous lives of animals that will be spared.  Some folks refuse to wear leather because they know it was at the cost of an animal's life.  Think of all the possibilities this can create.  We could be seeing wallets made from panda skin or other endangered species, and that is just a shot in the dark.  Who knows what we may see if this ever comes to life.  There are so many creative people out there that could do great things with this.  Maybe, just maybe, this can solve a potential food crisis down the road.  People say that one day our Earth will run out of food to sustain us.  If the idea of synthesizing leather is mastered, maybe one day food will be and the scarcity of food will no longer be of concern.

1 Comment

I would have to agree with you 100% on this topic. I think the general public would also be all for this idea because of the lives of animals that would be saved. You make a great point about the scarcity of food being of no concern if this technique is mastered. The only problem I have with this is economically. Don't you think the process of synthesizing leather would be a greater cost than raising animals for leather? I feel like the cost of leather would rise greatly with this technique. On the other side, maybe the cost of beef would decline since we would have a greater supply. Just something to think about.

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