In an effort to promote cell-based meat research and production in the country, the state government and the India arm of Washington-based NGO Good Food Institute (GFI) signed an MoU on Monday to set up a ‘centre for excellence in cellular agriculture’ in Maharashtra. Cell-based meat or “cultured meat” is produced from cells taken from an animal and grown outside its body in a petri dish.
The centre will be set up by the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai. In its first phase, a lab is expected to come up in the city next year. The second phase, a greenfield project, is expected to come up on 203 acres of land owned by ICT in Jalna by 2021, said GFI India Managing Director Varun Deshpande.
GFI will offer expertise and guidance in setting up the lab through its network of scientists. “The concept of cell-based meat is still in an early stage in the country. However, the size and demand of the meat industry is growing rapidly. It is estimated that in the coming years, meat consumption in India is going to rise with the rise in population,” said Deshpande.
He added that the current Indian meat industry is valued at an estimated Rs 20,000 crore and the project is expected to benefit 9.7 billion people in 2050, a sixth of which will be Indians.
Two types of research will be conducted at the lab — open access research to be utilised by the entire sector and contract research opportunities with entreprenuers.
Animal welfare organisation Humane Society International India and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad are also partners of GFI.
A statement issued by Dr Rekha Singhal, Dean, research, consultancy and research mobilisation, ICT Mumbai, said, “As the foremost university engaged in research in the area of chemical technology in the country, we are proud to announce a MoU with industry leaders, to set up the world’s first dedicated centre on cellular agriculture. This centre will pioneer innovation allowing Indian business a chance to create products using our breakthrough research.”