2011: Modern Meadow is founded
Modern Meadow is an innovative company founded in 2011 that is currently developing cultured leather and meat, which requires no animal slaughter and much lower inputs of land, water, energy and chemicals than conventional production. It was co-founded by Andras Forgacs, who first co-founded the now $530 million dollar Organovo, a company which bioprints human tissues for medical research and therapies.
Using the same bioprinting technology that brought us artificially grown body parts like ears, windpipes, skin and bones that have been successfully implanted into human patients, Modern Meadow intends to adapt this technology for biofabricating meat and leather products without the need to slaughter animals. They replaced animals in research with Organovo, and now want to replace animals in animal products.
In June 2013, Forgacs spoke about his meat and leather production at TEDGlobal, an annual conference that celebrates human ingenuity by exploring ideas, innovation and creativity from around the world. Here he explained how biofabrication can be used to grow leather, and presented the first pieces of cultured leather to the audience.
A year later, in June 2014, Modern Meadow received a $10 million investment from Horizon Ventures to further expand the company’s facility, open a larger research headquarters in Brooklyn, New York and hire additional employees. This substantial sum of money will hopefully rapidly speed up the company’s ability to bring these products to market much sooner than would have otherwise been possible.
Modern Meadow, although working on both meat and leather, is focusing most of its current attention on the production of leather. This is because growing leather is technically simpler than growing meat as it mainly uses only one cell type and is pretty much two-dimensional, unlike meat which is far more complex. Producing biofabricated meat will also require much testing and regulating before it can be sold to the general public, but none of these obstacles are present in the sale of consumer goods made from leather. In addition, Forgacs believes that people will be much more willing to use and wear novel materials than they will be to eat novel foods. He hopes that once consumers have accepted cultured leather, they may be more open to accepting cultured meat too.
Modern Meadow’s research and development of cultured leather is certainly a very new and exciting idea! Imagine, in just the next few years, a world where animals are no longer slaughtered for their skins to make leather, but flawless leather produced by biofabrication will still be widely available for sale in all the same ways!
If you are interested in learning more you can follow Modern Meadow’s progress by signing up for email updates here.