Today, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sampled cultured meat made by Israeli startup Aleph Farms, becoming the world’s first head of state to taste meat grown outside of the animal. Netanyahu was accompanied on the visit by Nir Goldstein, Managing Director of the Israel arm of food advocacy group The Good Food Institute (GFI), and toured the Aleph Farms facility with Tal Gilboa, the government’s animal rights advisor. “It’s delicious and guilt-free. I can’t taste the difference,” Netanyahu said. “I have directed State Secretary Tzahi Braverman to appoint a coordinator to serve these industries in order to connect and oversee all the stakeholders operating in this field. Israel will become a powerhouse for alternative meat and alternative protein.” 

Aleph Farms first unveiled its cell-based steak—grown from a small amount of animal cells under controlled conditions outside of the cow—in 2018 and has since increased its size and adapted it to be viable for large-scale production. Last year, Aleph Farms grew its cell-based steak on the International Space Station outside of Earth’s orbit to show that the technology can create food sources with very limited natural resources such as land and water. Currently, the startup is transferring its commercial product to its first BioFarm, a pilot production plant with a launch planned for 2022. “National programs for food security are being initiated with the goal of providing the global society with local and secure supplies of accessible, nutritious, and safe food to facilitate healthy livelihoods anytime, anywhere,” Aleph Farms CEO and Co-Founder Didier Toubia said. “We represent here today not only Aleph Farms but the whole local cultivated meat industry, which is working together to stimulate a global transition for the protein sector.”

“One small bite for a man, but one giant bite for humankind.”
GFI has been working with the government of Israel for more than one year to help cultured meat gain regulatory approval in the country, where a number of startups are currently developing slaughter-free meat products. “It’s no surprise that Israel is leading the way in supporting this new and better way of making meat. The Israeli government has turned the country into a nerve center for plant-based and cultivated meat innovation,” GFI Executive Director Bruce Friedrich said. “Prime Minister Netanyahu has thrown the weight of Israel behind this new way of making meat. The EU, China, the US, and other governments should pick up the gauntlet that Mr. Netanyahu just threw down, because nothing is more important for the climate than a transformation in protein production. Globally, we need a space-race-type commitment toward making meat from plants or cultivating it from cells. This gesture from the Prime Minister really is one small bite for a man, but one giant bite for humankind.”

Last week, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) approved the sale of Eat Just’s cultured chicken—marking the first time a country has granted regulatory approval for the novel food technology. Eat Just will use the cultured chicken as part of its chicken bites, which the startup plans to launch on a small commercial scale under its new brand GOOD Meat.

Photo Credit: Koby Gidon